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Homily for 9/14/08 - P13 - In the presence of the Lord

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 21:33-42 The husbandmen of the vineyard had what we might call today a “sweet deal”. They were given a place to live and work which was designed to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 14, 2008
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      Matt 21:33-42

      The husbandmen of the vineyard had what we might call today a “sweet
      deal”. They were given a place to live and work which was designed to
      provide them with their every need. All the supplies and all the tools
      that were required for the maintenance of the vineyard and the
      collection of fruit and its processing were provided by the owner of the
      vineyard. The owner placed them in his vineyard and only asked that they
      give to him the portion of their profits that was his due. It would
      seem, however, that these caretakers became a little too “at home” in
      their vineyard. The memory of the owner began to grow dim and they began
      to think that the vineyard belonged to them. They began to use it as
      their own and neglected their duty to the owner. The owner, however, did
      not forget about his vineyard and about those who he had engaged to care
      for it. He sent servants to remind them of their duty to him and to see
      how things were. But the servants got to be annoying, for by their very
      presence they spoke of an uncomfortable truth – that the vineyard was
      not the property of the husbandmen and they were not free agents to do
      as they wished. Rather than change their ways in the face of that
      uncomfortable reminder, the husbandmen decided that they would get rid
      of the servant. Some they beat, some they abused, some they just killed.
      In this way, they could forget about the existence of the owner to whom
      they had their own duty. Even the son of the owner was taken and killed
      with the mistaken idea that this would allow these husbandmen to
      continue living in their delusion. But the owner will return and when he
      does, those husbandmen will answer not only for their folly and
      delusion, but also for the mistreatment and murder by which they
      maintained their foolish delusion.

      This parable is a clear description of the attitudes of the Jews in the
      time of Christ. God had given to them the task of caring for the
      revelation and worship of the One True God and had given to them all
      that they needed in that task, including divine help and protection in
      the world. But the Jews had taken the Law and the Prophets and twisted
      them to their own means. They mocked and killed the prophets and when
      the incarnate Son of God, the God/man Jesus Christ came and dwelt among
      them they killed him.

      But this is not just about the Jews at the time of Christ, this is about
      all of mankind, this is about us. God created this infinite universe
      full of wonders and beauty. In the midst of this universe, He
      established this planet and carefully set it up so that it would provide
      us with all that we would need. Then He placed man in the midst of this
      place which He had prepared for us and gave it into our care. The fruit
      when He expected to draw from this garden was not the fruit of vines or
      the profit from their sale, but rather the fruit which He desired was
      that we would grow and live in union and communion with Him, sharing
      with Him not only the garden of the earth but also the joys of eternity.
      But beginning with the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, mankind
      began to forget God and began to live as though he were the master of
      the world and as though there were no God. Whenever there were reminders
      of God’s presence, as soon as it was safe to do so, man pushed them
      away. Whenever there were prophets sent by God to call us to repentance,
      we ridiculed them, abused them and even killed them. When God Himself
      became incarnate, we mocked Him, and we killed Him. From that time on it
      has only gotten worse.

      Each successive generation lives less and less in the remembrance of
      God. We have this delusion in which we live that there is no God, that
      everything leading up to our existence and the bountiful world in which
      we live were all brought about by chance. We even try to attribute our
      own existence to the chance interaction of inanimate elements and to the
      processes of chance mutation and “natural selection”. Any suggestion
      that there might have been even the smallest participation of God in the
      creation of the universe and in the life that abounds in this world is
      greeted with jeers and rejection. We live in a world in which the
      remembrance of God is dim and faded and in which it is actively
      suppressed. Even the most vocal and outwardly “God-fearing” among us all
      too often invoke God simply as a justification for doing what they want
      and as a reason why everyone else should join in (or at least agree). We
      use up the world as though it were our own; we live our lives as though
      we owed no duty but to ourselves; we remember God only in times of trial
      and difficulty and as soon as it is over, we forget Him again. This is
      the way that we live our lives – but it is not the way that God intended
      for us to live.

      God created this world especially for us. In fact, not only this world,
      but the whole of the universe was designed to support our existence and
      to provide for our lives here on this planet. God placed us in this
      celestial vineyard so that we might grow and live in union and communion
      with Him. Enjoying on one hand the wonders of the works of His creation
      and on the other the joys of eternity and the life that He shares with
      us. We were created to live “in the presence of God”. But even from the
      beginning there was the temptation to step outside this paradise, to
      live no longer in the presence and awareness of God but for ourselves.
      Because of the fall and the consequences of the fall not only upon us
      but upon all of creation, that temptation has become the dominant
      reality of our lives. To remember God, to live in His presence and to
      enjoy union and communion with Him has become almost an unattainable
      dream. The small and inferior temporal pleasures of the world have
      supplanted the infinite and eternal pleasures of the Kingdom of God. We
      have forgotten the joy of living in union and communion with God and
      delude ourselves that the joy and pleasure of living in the world is
      better. We delude ourselves thinking that we cannot “miss out” on the
      pleasures of the world and so we sacrifice even the remembrance of God
      and as a result we “miss out” on the indescribable and infinite joy for
      which we were created. We live in our own godless delusion.

      But God does not leave us to our own destruction. He sends to us His
      servants who by word and deed remind us of God’s presence, of His love
      for us and of our duty to Him. These inconvenient reminders are met by
      us with mockery, denial and sometimes even the martyrdom of the
      messenger. We even maintain our delusion of remembrance of God by trying
      to equate the Creator with His creation and thus we “commune with God”
      while in nature, but reject any kind of demands on our time and
      pleasure. We have created a false god of indulgence and self
      satisfaction to replace the true God and so maintain even the delusion
      that we still remember God.

      But even so, God does not leave us alone, but rather He Himself, the
      God/man Jesus Christ has come to us to lead us out of our error and to
      bring us back into the joy of union and communion with Him. He has come
      into the world to show us the way that we have lost, that we can no
      longer even see clearly, that we have actively avoided knowing. This is
      the path of salvation – salvation from our own self-delusion, from our
      own own self destruction. This is the path of the worship of the one
      true God, the path of illumination, the path of life, the path that
      leads back to paradise. We are lost in the briars and brambles of our
      own delusion. We have not only lost our way, but we have forgotten that
      there was even ever a path to follow. We are stuck in our own fantasy,
      headed for the edge of the cliff, thinking that this is the way to
      paradise. But God in His infinite mercy and love has come to us and
      extends to us His hand to pull us out of our own blind self delusion and
      to place us back on the path of salvation and to walk with us to the
      end, guiding us where we are still blind and unseeing, supporting us
      when we stumble and bringing us ever more securely into the joy of union
      and communion with Him for which we were created.

      We are called to live in the presence of the Lord, in the constant
      remembrance of God. We are called not only to live with God to but to
      share His life as our own. We are called to come to Him. The path is
      challenging, it is difficult, and we have already lost our way and have
      to shed the briars that stick to us and seek to pull us back but God
      helps us and does not abandon us. He walks with us and guides us every
      step of the way.

      The world around us is filled with the constant reminders and the
      eternal provision of God. The beauty of nature and the abundance of the
      resources of the earth that meet our every need are all there, given to
      us by God for us. When we use these things, it should be with the
      constant remembrance of the One Who has prepared this world for us and
      Who has placed us here. When we use these things, it should be with the
      remembrance of our duty to God and the purpose of our life which is to
      live in union and communion with Him, not according to our own will and
      selfish desire but rather according to His will and His love for us. We
      are called to live in union and communion with God, we are called to
      live in the presence of the Lord. Our choice is whether or not we will
      fulfill our destiny and enter into the joy of the Lord or whether we
      will persist in our own delusion and fall to our own self imposed

      Let us then choose the life for which we were destined, let us choose to
      live in union and communion with our Lord, let us live in the joy of the
      Kingdom of God, let us live in the presence of the Lord.

      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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