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Homily for 10/1/06 - P 16 - Not my life but Christ's

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  • Fr David Moser
    Mark 8:34-9:1, Gal 2:16-20, 2Cor 6:1-10 On this Sunday after the feast of the Cross, we are given again the familiar prescription for our salvation -- Whoever
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2006
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      Mark 8:34-9:1, Gal 2:16-20, 2Cor 6:1-10

      On this Sunday after the feast of the Cross, we are given again the
      familiar prescription for our salvation -- "Whoever desires to come
      after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For
      whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his
      life for My sake and for the Gospel will save it" (Mk. 8:34, 35) What
      this comes down to is a simple exchange -- we give up our life and take
      in exchange the life of Christ. Again as the Gospel asks, "And what
      shall a man take in exchange for his soul?" We give up our soul in
      exchange for the life of Christ. We no longer live for ourselves alone,
      but for Christ who lives in us. The Holy Apostle tells us this same
      thing again when he says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no
      longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now
      live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and
      gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)

      Now this sounds drastic and difficult -- and indeed it is a lifelong and
      life-changing endeavor. But it is not impossible, nor does it even
      require complete perfection on our part. The important thing now is to
      find out how to make this "exchange" in our daily lives. St Theophan
      the Recluse gives us instruction in this that is simple to grasp and
      which requires only that we make a beginning and then persist in our
      efforts:

      "Our entire lives, in all of their parts and details, must be devoted to
      God. The general rule is that everything you do should be done
      according to the Divine will and for the sake of pleasing God, in praise
      of His Most Holy Name. Thus, we should examine each act which occurs to
      see if it is in compliance with the Divine will and then perform it with
      the conviction that it is totally in compliance with it and is pleasing
      to God. A person who always acts with such discretion and in the clear
      consciousness of pleasing God with his actions cannot fail at the same
      time to acknowledge that his life is proceeding truthfully. Although
      his acts are not brilliant or perfect, he permits nothing consciously in
      them that would offend God or would not be pleasing to Him. ... Although
      he is not great, or distinguished or famous, he is still God's servant
      who tries in every possible way to please Him, and directs all his
      efforts toward this end and believes that God Himself sees him as such."

      See how simple this is? The heart of the matter is to live to the best
      of our ability every moment of our lives for the sake of pleasing God
      and to His glory. That's all, nothing more. God does not ask of us
      that which is impossible, nor does He ask that which is beyond our
      ability. Thus all that is necessary to do on one hand is to become
      aware of every action that we do and to be certain that it is done in
      order to please God and on the other hand to consciously reject any
      action that would offend God. It is a simple choice -- a moment by
      moment choice.

      But we do not all live like this, in fact most of us do not live like
      this. It is not that we choose to displease God but rather that we are
      careless and inattentive about our own lives. Our "actions occur
      haphazardly" and we give "no thought as to the suitability of (our)
      actions to life's main purpose (that is pleasing God)" In fact many
      people "have nothing against God, but they also have no deliberate
      intention of pleasing God. For example, they happen to drop into
      church; they drop in, they leave, they make no apology. When they pray
      at home they make a bow or two and that is it. They are satisfied.
      That is how they are in everything with respect to God. While they are
      not obvious egotists, when it comes to the preservation of their own
      interests, in order to avoid making any self sacrifice they can always
      find a reason to avoid it. They also are not to blatantly vain, but
      have no objection to amusing themselves with worldly matters. People of
      this sort...are indifferent to the matter of pleasing God and salvation;
      they are neither hot nor cold. God turns away from them and rejects them."

      From these words of St Theophan, we see clearly that we must take an
      active and decisive role in taking on the life of Christ. We cannot
      take His life on and still keep our own. We cannot be committed to
      ourselves, to our own ideals and comfort and at the same time be
      committed to Christ. It is necessary to make a decision -- and not just
      one decision but to decide every moment of every day -- to live the life
      of Christ. You see this is difficult not because it is hard or beyond
      our ability, but rather because we are used to being careless in our
      lives and not paying any attention to how we live.

      Before we finish, let me draw your attention again to a very important
      passage, "Although his acts are not brilliant or perfect, he permits
      nothing consciously in them that would offend God or would not be
      pleasing to Him" This is important because we are reminded that it is
      not necessary for us to be "brilliant" or "perfect" in our endeavor, but
      simply that we act according to our ability, to do what is in our
      power. We simply give God the life that we have, as imperfect and
      tarnished as it may be, but lived to the best of our ability to His
      glory and He receives us and embraces us and fills us with His love and
      makes our imperfect and tarnished life perfect and brilliant by His
      grace. As the Apostle reminds us, "a man is not justified by the works
      of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." (Gal 2:16) God does not
      expect us to be perfect or brilliant -- He only asks that we place all
      of our faith in Him and turn over our whole lives, our whole being to
      Him and live according to His will, choosing to please Him in all that
      we do. When we thus place our faith in Him, He receives us and He then
      by His grace fills us with His life and transforms us to be like Him.

      Having placed our faith in Jesus Christ, having offered our lives to
      Him, let us not delay but begin immediately to choose to live each
      moment for Christ. Heed the words of the Apostle again as he says to
      us, "Do not receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: 'in an
      acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have
      helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day
      of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:1, 2)

      --
      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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