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Homily for 6/8/08 - Pascha 6 - communion with God

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  • Fr David Moser
    If you were visiting a strange land, you might visit many places and endeavor to meet the people to find out what this land was like. If, while visiting and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 8 11:22 AM
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      If you were visiting a strange land, you might visit many places and
      endeavor to meet the people to find out what this land was like. If,
      while visiting and talking to people, you were impressed with the
      richness and beauty of the land and the nature of the people who are
      friendly and peaceful and who appear to love one another you might begin
      to ask how is it that this land became so beautiful, how is it that
      these people learned to live together in such harmony and mutual love.
      As you asked about this, you were told time and time again that all
      these things were due to the efforts of the king. If this were the case,
      you might develop a desire to meet this wonderful king for judging by
      his servants and his works, he must be an exceptional fellow. Again you
      ask how one might meet this king and you are told, “Of course you can
      meet him, he loves to get to know all who wish to meet him. Come with us
      and we will take you to him.”

      This place, of course, is the kingdom of God and those people that you
      meet are the servants of God, the saints. In the lives of the saints we
      see God and seeing God in them, we develop within ourselves a desire to
      meet God. Then, when we ask to meet God, the saints simply reply, “Come
      with us, do as we do, live as we live and you will meet Him face to
      face.” This is how we come to know God, to encounter Him face to face –
      by living as the saints live, by doing as they do, for everything that
      they do has only the one goal, to know God.

      The Gospel today recounts the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ just
      before the trials and sufferings of His betrayal, arrest and
      crucifixion. He prays not for Himself, but for those who have followed
      Him. In this prayer He says “this is life eternal: that they might know
      Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” This then
      is our salvation – to know God. We have seen the lives of the saints, we
      have seen the transformation wrought in them by their own encounter with
      God and now we too desire this same experience. We desire to encounter
      God, to know Him – not just to know about Him or to see the effects of
      His presence on others, but to know Him for ourselves.

      How then do we encounter God? Our Lord gives to all of us the
      opportunity to know Him through faith and a pure heart. As we sing in
      the beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
      One might think though that such a state of purity is beyond our
      strength and is impossible for a man to attain on his own. This is true,
      however, our God loves each of us and desires that not one single person
      should perish and therefore He has deigned to come to us and show
      Himself to us and to help us to see and perceive Him better. Remember
      the Gospel of the blind man – a man who even from birth was unable to
      see, and yet Jesus Christ, through the miraculous healing of his sight
      helped this man to see him. So also with us, God has not only shown
      Himself to us in His incarnation, but He helps us by His grace to be
      able to see Him and experience Him directly in our lives.

      The way that He does this is that He guides us in our lives so that we
      are constantly drawing nearer and nearer to Him. We see this life in the
      lives of the saints and so we seek to emulate them. We are shown step by
      step how to come to this encounter with God by the life of the Church,
      the path to salvation. The Apostle and evangelist St John also tells us
      that if we love God we will keep His commandments. That is, if we love
      God then we will order our lives in accordance with the directions that
      He gives us which show us the way to Himself. As we live according to
      Christ’s commandments, as we follow the path of salvation God has laid
      out for us in the life of the Church then we will consistently come
      closer and closer to Him. We are commanded to live a righteous life,
      that is we order our lives so that in them we strive to imitate the
      qualities of the life of Christ – His love and compassion, His mercy,
      His sinlessness, His communion with God. We strengthen our piety by
      reading and listening to the Holy Scripture from whish we receive this
      saving knowledge of God and His Holy Will. We fill our minds and hearts
      with the lives and spiritual writings of the saints, for they have gone
      before us and serve as examples and teachers in this path of salvation.

      But most of all we must pray. Prayer is communion with God – in our
      prayer, we talk with God and reveal to Him the depths of our own hearts.
      We tell God our hopes and dreams and we lay them before Him; we show Him
      our weaknesses and failings and beg forgiveness and healing; we share
      with Him our anxieties and worries and we put all such things into His
      hands to resolve as He will. So often we neglect this prayer and we
      forget to pray. God is waiting for us to talk with Him, to commune with
      Him, but we do not. We turn away from Him as though there were more
      important things to do and see in the world. We do not experience God or
      know God because we neglect that relationship with Him that He offers to
      us. When we pray we open ourselves, our souls to God and He fills us
      with His love and His grace. It is this grace which transforms us, which
      works in us and empowers our feeble efforts. This grace is made
      available to us constantly through the avenue of prayer (does not the
      Apostle Paul tell us to “pray without ceasing”?) If we would encounter
      God and experience His life in us, prayer is of the greatest importance.

      John 17:1-13

      Prayer is both a private and personal thing as well as a public and
      corporate thing. It is necessary to have both. Our lives should be
      filled with prayer so that as we go about our daily routine, we are
      constantly taking in the grace of God. This is, for the most part our
      personal prayer. However, in the Gospel, we also heard the prayer of our
      Lord Jesus Christ that we might be one as He and the Father are One.
      That oneness is the unity of the faithful. We are united and joined to
      one another in the life of Christ and this unity is expressed and
      strengthened by corporate prayer – when we gather together and lift up
      our many voices as one and pray with one voice. The services are not
      just some duty that we perform or some social gathering, but they are
      the expression and working out of our unity with one another. In the
      services, it is important to attend to what is being said and sung and
      prayed and to join our voices and our hearts in that prayer so that we
      participate together as one. Let the hymns and prayers of the services
      shape your own prayer and unite you with the whole Church that we may
      become one just as the Holy Trinity is one. In this way we fulfill the
      desire of our Lord Jesus Christ for us that we might know God and
      experience His life in us and that we might become one as the Trinity is
      one.

      This is eternal life, to know the only true God Who has revealed Himself
      to us in the God/man Jesus Christ. The life of the Trinity is made
      manifest in us by uniting us not only to Christ but to one another that
      we might be one as God is one. The greatest and most effective way that
      we have of facilitating this experience of God in ourselves is by
      prayer, both personal and corporate. In this manner we commune with God
      and we share in His life that He gives to us and we come to know Him.

      --
      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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