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Homily for 629/08 - P2 - fishers of men

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 4:18-4:23 Today in the Gospel, we heard how our Lord called the apostles to be “fishers of men”. They did not immediately begin their ministry, but
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2008
      Matt 4:18-4:23

      Today in the Gospel, we heard how our Lord called the apostles to be
      “fishers of men”. They did not immediately begin their ministry, but
      instead traveled with Jesus, watching, listening, learning all that He
      had to teach them. They became “fishers of men” only after they had seen
      and experienced the totality of the revelation of God, that is His
      incarnation. Only after they had seen and heard our Lord live and teach
      and then sacrifice Himself for our salvation, die and rise again were
      they ready to become “fishers of men” Still there remained for them one
      more thing though before they could go out and effectively begin to draw
      the world into the ark of salvation with the net of the Gospel and that
      was to be filled with the Holy Spirit. On the feast of Pentecost, the
      Holy Spirit descended upon not only the apostles but upon all the
      believers gathered in Jerusalem and they began to preach not only to
      their countrymen, but to the whole world.

      While not all of us are called to the apostolic ministry (in fact a very
      few are called to be apostles), we all are called to participate in this
      ministry of being “fishers of men” We are called to be a light shining
      on a hill, a beacon drawing all to Christ; we are all called to be
      witnesses to the Truth. It is necessary, here, to consider for a moment
      what is that a witness does. A witness relates what he has experienced,
      seen and heard. As witnesses for Christ we tell what we have seen, what
      we have heard and what have experienced from Christ in our lives. We do
      not have to learn the doctrines and dogmas of the Church, nor do we have
      to be persuasive speakers – we don’t even have to speak. We only have to
      relate through word and deed the life of Christ in us.

      In order to bear witness to what we have experienced from Christ we
      first need to be aware of the work of Jesus Christ in our own lives. Too
      often we go through our daily lives with our eyes closed to the
      providence and loving care of God which is showered upon us. We cannot
      witness to what God has done in our lives because we are oblivious to
      it. When people ask us about our faith, we respond not with the dynamic
      and personal accounts of our relationship with Jesus Christ, but rather
      with general comments about the nice sense of community that we have
      here, or the Russian culture in which the Church is expressed, or some
      dry theological treatise designed to present an argument about what is
      true. The really important and powerful witness, however, is none of
      these things but rather what Jesus Christ has done in me today, how I
      experience on a day to day, moment by moment basis the indwelling life
      of the Holy Spirit. What it is like to have a close relationship with
      the Creator of the universe and to call Him “Father” This is what we are
      called to witness to, not the vague social and cultural ideals of the world.

      In order to be “witnesses” to the Life of Christ in us and to God’s love
      for us, we first have to become aware of that life and love in our daily
      lives. We do this by nurturing within ourselves the habit of seeing the
      hand of God in every event, every moment, every passing observation of
      our lives. We have to attend to the work of Christ in our lives. The
      best way that we as Christians can begin to do this is through the
      simple act of thanksgiving. Develop the habit of constantly giving
      thanks to God for each and every blessing that He bestows upon you. I
      recall a simple song that I learned as a child that tells us this very
      thing. It goes (in part) “Count your blessings, name them one by one;
      Count your blessings, see what God has done” If we as Christians could
      do this one thing on a daily basis, then we would quickly become aware
      of God’s love and compassion for us and His hand on our lives.

      So we begin first by “counting our blessings” on daily basis. Each
      evening as a part of your prayer rule, get in the habit of taking a few
      moments to mentally recall the events of the day. Think about what
      happened and in each thing you recall from the day see how God has
      blessed you. Seeing these many blessings then, give thanks to God for
      these very gifts. When things in our life are going well and there are
      many joys and pleasures, it is relatively easy to find things for which
      to give thanks to God. These joys are the first things that we will see
      as blessings in our lives. Then we will also see how God’s merciful hand
      has protected us from harm. We will be tempted to think that we remained
      safe in a difficult or dangerous situation because we were careful or
      because of coincidence or because of some other mundane reason – but in
      truth we are preserved from harm by God’s merciful compassion and
      protection towards us. So for these things too, give thanks. Then there
      are the regular and routine things that happen to us, the work we do,
      the food we eat, the basic necessities of life that we use every day.
      These things we tend to take for granted because they are always there,
      our house, the food in the fridge, the electricity that turns on the
      lights, the car and gas to run it, and so on. However, these things too
      are gifts from God and we should thank Him for every little routine and
      mundane part of His provision for us. God’s blessings are all around us.
      Perhaps the harder place to find the blessings of God are when we
      experience difficulty, sorrows, trials and pain. Even here, however, we
      can see the hand of God. God only permits us to encounter those trials
      which are within our ability to endure. We look at the sufferings of
      others and see that they are carrying burdens from which we would break
      – and we thank God that He has moderated our struggle to accommodate our
      weakness. In our difficulty, we are tempted to despair and to lose hope
      and give up, but we can thank God that there is hope, that we do not
      automatically despair, and that it is not necessary to relinquish hope.
      We have our memories of the many times that God has preserved us in the
      past and the many struggles which we have already endured and so now we
      can look forward to His continued help in the future – and for this hope
      we give thanks.

      On a deeper level we look at the spiritual benefits of both our joys and
      trials and we see how each event of our lives serves to shape the soul
      in a particular manner so that we might more closely conform to the
      image of God. For this it is necessary to keep in mind always that we
      are immortal creatures, that we will live on past this life and that we
      were created to live in the Kingdom of God. This sense of perspective
      allows us to look past the immediate situation and to see the long term
      and eternal benefits and blessings that are contained in our daily
      experience of God’s love.

      Once you have established the practice of giving thanks on a daily
      basis, then it is necessary to move to establishing the habit of giving
      thanks continually. When you have taught yourself through thanksgiving
      to see the hand of God in all things, then you can begin to thank God as
      soon as you recognize His blessings. Thank God with every act, with
      every event, with every moment of your life so that you fulfill the
      apostolic injunction “in everything give thanks” and in so doing also
      fulfill the command to “pray without ceasing”.

      As you come to give thanks to God more and more often, you will become
      more and more aware of His blessings for you. As you see His blessings
      in your life, you also become aware of how He is continually interacting
      with you and calling you into an ever deepening relationship with Him.
      You will begin to be more aware of the life of Christ in you, of the
      Holy Spirit working in your life, and of the love and compassion of God
      that you experience on a moment by moment basis. This awareness of God’s
      presence with you and His loving and compassionate care for you will
      evoke within you a love for Him that is rich and deep. It will also
      allow you to speak of this love as a witness to others telling them of
      your personal experience, what you have seen and heard and felt, with
      the Living God. In this way you participate in the apostolic act to
      become “fishers of men.”

      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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