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homily for 9/16/06 - P13 - Faith and Love

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  • Fr David Moser
    1Cor 16:13-24 When I am about to go somewhere, I go through a mental checklist to try and make sure that I remembered everything. Did I pack all the things
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20, 2006
      1Cor 16:13-24

      When I am about to go somewhere, I go through a mental checklist to try
      and make sure that I remembered everything. Did I pack all the things
      I'll need, did I turn off the lights, what will I need to do when I get
      to my destination and so on. Then, because I often forget some
      important things, my wife will also remind me and ask, did you take
      every thing? and remind me, when you get there don't forget to do this
      and that. All this is to put onto the top of my mind all the important
      things that I need to remember so that I don't forget.

      St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians does the same thing today. As
      he finishes the last few lines of this long letter of instruction to the
      Church in the city of Corinth he summarizes the important points of his
      instruction in 5 "bullet points" He reminds them:

      1. Be watchful
      2. Stand firm in your faith
      3. Be courageous
      4. Be strong
      5. Do everything with love

      Of these five points, three of them have to do with attitude, to be
      watchful, courageous and strong. These are necessary attitudes for each
      Christian in relation to his spiritual life -- to always be on guard
      against the wiles of the devil, always looking for opportunities to grow
      spiritually and then to approach those situations with courage, not
      backing down or giving up and finally to bring all our resources, all of
      our strength into living the Christian life. The remaining two points
      remind us of two great tools at our disposal in living the Christian
      life -- faith and love -- and it is these that we will look at a little
      more closely today.

      Stand firm in your faith. This brings us to the very important question
      of "what is faith?" We often talk about faith, but do we really
      understand what faith means in a spiritual context? In order to
      understand about faith in our spiritual life, we have to look at faith
      in our daily, worldly life. Every day we all have faith in many things
      -- in fact without faith our world would grind to a standstill. When we
      walk or drive down the street, we have faith that the other drivers will
      follow the rules and stay in their own lane and not try to run us over.
      When we go to the store and buy food we have faith in the producers of
      the food and the packagers and in the government agencies that regulate
      the production of food. We have faith in the store and in the employees
      of the store that they do not lie or cheat us. When we fly somewhere,
      we have faith in the principles of physics that allow the plane to fly,
      we have faith in the crews of the airport and airplane that they will
      care for our luggage, our safety, our comfort. We have faith in the
      pilot that he knows how to fly the plane, that he can get us safely from
      one place to another and so on. At home you have faith that when you
      throw the switch, the light comes on; when you turn the tap, the water
      comes on; when you turn up the heat the furnace comes on and so forth.
      All of these things take faith.

      When you go to the doctor, again you have faith in the doctor that he
      knows what he's doing and that he will be able to discover if you are
      healthy or not and that his prescriptions and therapy will be effective
      in making you well. This faith persists when you go home and fill your
      prescription and change your diet and exercise according to the doctor's
      instructions. You are acting according to the faith that you have in
      his skill and ability to make you well.

      Thus it is with our faith in God. We have faith that God knows what is
      needful for our spiritual well being. We have faith that He has
      provided the path to our salvation and spiritual health in the life of
      the Church. We have faith that He gives to us the things that we need
      for our salvation -- even those things that might be unpleasant (just as
      a medicine might taste bad, or a particular exercise might initially
      bring about stiffness). We have faith that He loves us and that He
      cares for us and that He will see us through everything that comes to us
      and that He will bring us grace to change our lives through all those

      When the Apostle Paul says to "stand fast in faith" he is reminding us
      to trust in God, to follow God's directions for us in the life and
      tradition of the Church. Sometimes we don't understand how this or that
      might be beneficial -- but we go ahead and do those things because of
      our faith in God Sometimes God's care and protection are obvious and so
      we rejoice in that. Sometimes we don't see His wisdom until its all
      over and long past and when we look back we see that He was with us and
      was caring for us. But whether we see or not, whether we understand or
      not, whether it's pleasant or not, we still stand fast in our faith and
      thus where God leads we will follow.

      The second great tool is that of love. This is the subject of a whole
      chapter of this letter in which the Apostle describes the nature of love
      and ends by reminding us that of the three principle virtues; faith,
      hope and love, that love is the greatest. When we are filled with love
      for our neighbor, this creates in us the love of God -- and when we are
      filled with the love of God, it naturally overflows in the love of
      neighbor. No matter how many good things we do -- if we do them out of
      any motivation other than the self sacrificing love of God for man, then
      our good things are of no spiritual value and are empty and worthless.
      The Optina elders consistently remind us of the necessity of filling our
      good works with love. St Nikon, one of the last of the Optina elders
      says to us, "Not every "good" deed is actually good, but only that good
      deed which is done of the (love) of God." and St Macarius adds that
      love must be a part of any good deed, "without which any works we might
      do will bring us no benefit -- only harm...).

      In this way, St Paul reminds us of the great commandment -- to love God
      and to love our neighbor. This love of God must be a part of everything
      that we do. It is the love of God that keeps us from sin and it is the
      love for our neighbors that make us a beacon of light shining out to the
      world with the divine light of Christ. Because this is so important,
      always ask God to help you to love Him more, always pray to God that He
      will fill you with His love. When we follow the life in Christ that our
      faith shows us, then we are in turn filled with the love of God which is
      a part of that life.

      Faith and love, these are the two great tools of the Christian life.
      Faith shows us the way and helps us to keep on it and it is love that
      fills our efforts and transforms our lives and realizes His likeness in
      us. Love is the energy of God that fills us that makes us like Him and
      as we gain His love through faith and share His love with our neighbor
      and the world around us, we ourselves are transformed so that we too
      will stand with Christ in glory as did Moses and Elijah at the
      Transfiguration witnessed by Peter and James and John and thus enter
      into His Kingdom.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Ask Fr David: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/frd_private/

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