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Homily for 3/25/07 - L5 - The Cure

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  • Fr David Moser
    Heb 9;11-14 God created man as the crown and glory of the whole of His creation. God looked at man and declared that His creature was good – and God loved
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2007
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      Heb 9;11-14

      God created man as the crown and glory of the whole of His creation. God
      looked at man and declared that His creature was good – and God loved
      His creature. But man sinned and through his sin contracted a deadly
      illness which began to corrupt him. This illness was nested in the very
      nexus of body and soul and as its chief symptom brought about the tragic
      separation of the body and the soul. God saw the illness that had
      infested his beloved creature and was sad. And so, God set about to cure
      man of his deadly illness. But, being the Great Physician, our Lord saw
      that the cure for the illness could not immediately be applied for the
      patient was still too weak. Time would have to pass for man to be ready
      to accept the cure.

      Seeing that He could not immediately cure His beloved creature from this
      illness of sin and death, God set out to ease the suffering of man,
      until the time came to cure him. God did not abandon us to our
      suffering, but rather He offered to us the means by which that suffering
      could be eased while we waited for the time to come when we could be
      healed. We see this same thing happen in the medical care of the body –
      there are times when a patient requires surgery or other drastic
      treatment in order to do away with some illness, but the cure itself is
      so rigorous that the patient requires some time to build up his
      strength. The doctor may then maintain his patient on medication
      designed to address the symptoms of the illness so that the patient can
      continue to function and grow strong until he is ready for the cure. By
      waiting to cure his patient, the doctor is not being negligent or cruel,
      but rather increasing the chance that the patient will survive and will
      be healed. So also the Great Physician, seeing us infected with the
      illness of sin and death set out to bring to us the cure, but needed to
      wait until all was prepared so that the cure might be most effective for
      us.

      The cure for our spiritual illness is of course the death and
      Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. By taking on death itself, he
      conquered death and so provided the means by which we too could conquer
      death. When we are united with Him, the One who destroyed death by
      death, His life flows into us and destroys sin and death in us. However,
      while He waited for mankind to be ready for this cure, He gave to us
      other spiritual medications designed to ease the suffering brought about
      by sin and death. The Epistle today reminds us of these spiritual
      medications for we are told that “the blood of bulls and of goats, and
      the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the
      purifying of the flesh” The whole sacrificial system of the Old
      Testament was instituted by God so that man might have some relief from
      the suffering of sin until He Himself would come and cure that illness.
      Those sacrifices of bulls and goats were not meant to appease an angry
      and offended God, rather their true effect was that they were given by
      our compassionate and loving God for the purifying of the flesh from the
      effects of sin. The illness of sin still infected mankind, but its
      effect was moderated by the sacrifices that were offered by the
      sufferers. How does all this work – we can’t say, since God has not
      revealed to us all the hows and whys of our spiritual life (no more than
      an earthly doctor explains to his patient all the hows and whys of his
      treatment, but only explains that which is sufficient for the patient’s
      well being). We do know, however, that it works to ease the effects of
      sin. The cure itself, however, was not the “blood of bulls and goats”
      but rather it is “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
      offered himself without spot to God”

      Again, we find it difficult to explain exactly how the cure works, since
      we do not fully understand the mechanics of the illness and in any case,
      these mysteries are not fully revealed to us. But God has revealed to us
      enough so that we know how to take advantage of His cure. When we do
      speak of this cure, we usually speak with metaphor and images using that
      which we do understand to give some form to that which we do not. In
      that light, we can speak of the blood of Christ as if it were a
      “vaccine”. A vaccine is made by introducing a weakened strain of an
      illness into a healthy body. The body then creates the antibodies in the
      blood which are effective for combating the illness. Normally, the
      illness might overwhelm the bodily defenses but because it is weakened
      so that the body is stronger, the result is that the natural defenses of
      the body will “win” the battle and render the subject immune. That
      immunity can then be transferred to another person by separating the
      antibodies created in the blood and sharing them with a person who is
      ill, thereby boosting his own body’s ability to fight off the disease.
      God Himself became man so that He might share our life. In doing so, He
      overcame the illness of sin with which we are all infected. The God/man
      Jesus Christ did not require that the sin be weakened so that He might
      overcome it for as God, He is already much stronger than sin. He himself
      passed through this life without succumbing to the illness of sin. In
      order that the cure might be complete, He Himself also passed through
      death. But death was unable to hold Him, for as God, the fountain of all
      Life, He was stronger than death and overcame it. Thus in three days, He
      rose from the dead, having now conquered in Himself sin and death. In
      order that we too might share in His victory He gives us His Most Holy
      Body and His Most Precious Blood as a “vaccine” that we might partake of
      the spiritual antibodies that will cure us from this illness of sin and
      death. Thus it is that we, receiving the Holy Mysteries, are inoculated
      against sin and death that rage within us and His blood purges from us
      the works of death, setting us free to serve the Living God and to share
      in His Life.

      Today, the 5th Sunday of Great Lent, we are shown the example of St Mary
      of Egypt – a woman in whom this infection of sin and death raged almost
      without hindrance. But even though she was completely infested with this
      illness – completely within its deadly grasp – still she was attracted
      to the cure. A desire was born in her to see and venerate the wood of
      the precious and life giving cross, but she was unable to do so, for her
      sin prevented her from crossing the threshold of the Church. Standing
      outside the Church, unable to enter and yet still drawn, she looked up
      and beheld and icon of the Mother of God. As Mary cried out to the
      Mother of God for help, the Ever Virgin Mary brought the repentant Mary
      into the Church – just as previously we heard how a paralytic, unable to
      approach Christ was carried by his friends and lowered through the roof
      – where she was able to venerate the Cross. Then Mary fled the city and
      the temptations that surrounded her; she took the cure, that is she
      received the Holy Mysteries at the Church of St John the Baptist and
      then withdrew into the desert beyond the Jordan so that she might be
      fully healed. After struggling in the desert for the whole of her life,
      she was revealed by God to the elder Zossima who hearing her account,
      glorified the saving power of Jesus Christ to heal even one so
      thoroughly infected by sin. It was He who brought to her again the final
      medicine, the Most Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, that
      she might safely traverse even the last barrier of bodily death and thus
      be received into the Kingdom of God.

      This same medicine is given to us today – for our Lord Jesus Christ
      continues to offer to us His Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood as
      an antidote to sin, as a “vaccine” against the illness of sin and death
      that rages in us. Like the Holy Mary of Egypt, we can be strengthened by
      this medicine of immortality, enabling us not only to struggle against
      sin, but also to prevail in that struggle and to be purified from the
      works of death in us. We are given Life by the Giver of Life Himself. By
      uniting us with Himself, by giving us His Life, He shares with us not
      only relief from the effects of sin – but the Cure itself. He has gained
      the victory over sin and death by His Resurrection and today He offers
      to share that victory with us that we too may pass through death to Life
      with Him in His Kingdom.

      God gives to us the Medicine of Immortality, His Most Holy Body and Most
      Precious Blood, which gives us His Life. Let us each joyfully accept and
      receive that which is freely offered to us that entering into His death
      and His Resurrection we might share His Life.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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