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Homily for 6/7/09 - Pentecost - restoring what was lost

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  • Fr David Moser
    Acts 2:1-11 The descent of the Holy Spirit described to us in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles is depicted for us in the icon that we see right here
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2009
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      Acts 2:1-11

      The descent of the Holy Spirit described to us in the reading from the
      Acts of the Apostles is depicted for us in the icon that we see right
      here before us in the Church. This icon not only visually tells the
      story of the descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of flame upon the
      apostles, but it also teaches us the greater meaning of this event in
      God’s provision for the salvation of the world. See how the circle of
      the Apostles is not closed but is open both at the top toward heaven –
      from which they receive the Holy Spirit – and also at the bottom where
      we see a crowned figure holding a cloth filled with many blank scrolls.
      In this we see that the Holy Spirit descended first upon the Apostles
      for they had been prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ to receive this
      divine indwelling. But the outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not stop
      there for the crowned man at the bottom and in the center of the
      Apostles represents all the kingdoms and nations of the earth. Having
      received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles began to speak and preach the
      Gospel in a multitude of tongues which were the languages of the nations
      of the earth. Shortly after this the Apostles divided up the whole of
      the known world between themselves and began to preach the Gospel to all
      nations. The scrolls represent the various nations, each of which would
      be taken up by one or the other of the Apostles. There he would go to
      proclaim the Resurrection and the defeat of sin, death and the devil and
      the freedom of all men from their captivity.

      The descent of the Holy Spirit restores the living unity of mankind with
      God that was made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ. We
      were created to live in union and communion with God and through that
      union with God we also live in union and communion with one another.
      This state of life in union and communion with God was broken when our
      first parents sinned and were exiled from paradise. As their descendents
      fell further and further from that life of union and communion with God,
      they also began to live less and less in union and communion with one
      another. The communion of mankind was undermined and destroyed by the
      growing individualism of fallen man. This unity of mankind was finally
      broken when the languages were sundered at the tower of Babel. Our
      common language was the last vestige of our original created unity, and
      finally when that unity with one another had fully died, that last relic
      of the unity was lost and men could no longer could bridge their
      isolation by communicating with one another.

      The feast of Pentecost is the exact opposite of Babel, for at Babel the
      languages of men were sundered from one another finally separating man
      from his brethren and casting him into a life of isolation and
      individualism reinforced by walls of pride and self love. At Pentecost
      the indwelling of the Holy Spirit restores the unity of man with God and
      by the gift of speaking in other tongues overcomes the separation of
      Babel and begins restoring the communion of man with his brothers. What
      was destroyed at Babel has been restored at Pentecost.

      What then does this mean to us here and now? The Holy Spirit descended
      first upon the Apostles who represent not only themselves, but the whole
      Church. The Holy Spirit descends upon us today just as it did upon the
      Apostles at Pentecost for we are all members of the Body of Christ and
      we live in union and communion with God. Just as the separation of
      mankind through language was overcome and negated by the gift of
      speaking in other tongues by the grace of God, so also the various
      causes of our separation from one another are overcome by the various
      gifts of God that are given to us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
      The scriptures speak of many gifts, of tongues and prophecies and
      miracles and healings and teaching and ministering. These are but a few
      of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to us to overcome our
      separation from one another. These gifts are not given without a purpose
      or without some particular use for the Holy Spirit does not do these
      things just for show. Nor are these gifts given for our union with God –
      that has been restored already by the death and resurrection of Christ
      and is deepened and maintained by prayer and self denial. When we are
      divided by language – the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of understanding
      others and making ourselves understood. When we are divided by sorrows
      and misfortune – the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of miracles and
      healings which eliminate those seemingly insurmountable divisions. When
      we are divided by ignorance and hatred – the Holy Spirit gives us gifts
      of love and wisdom and the teaching of the Gospel of Christ. Just as the
      Apostles received the Holy Spirit and were indwelt by Him – so also we
      too are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who was given to us in the Sacrament
      of Chrismation.

      The Apostles did not keep this great treasure to themselves, but they
      immediately went into the streets proclaiming the Gospel in a multitude
      of languages. In this we see that the grace of the Holy Spirit is given
      to the Church, but not so that it will remain hidden in the Church, but
      through the Church the grace of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the
      whole world. We have been given this same great gift and we have the
      same responsibility – to give as freely and fully as we have been given.
      We do not keep the love of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit to
      ourselves, but we have been given this gift that we might in turn pour
      it our on the world around us. Where there is fear and hatred, we bring
      love. Where there is pain and suffering we bring the healing balm of
      compassion and mercy. Where there is hunger and thirst to know God we
      bring the truth of the Gospel. All of the spiritual needs of the world
      are filled by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that we have been given to
      bring to the world.

      You may not speak in other languages; you may not work miracles; you may
      not be a great teacher and evangelist; but you are filled with the Holy
      Spirit and you can share that grace with the world through acts of
      kindness, mercy, compassion and love. If there is a need for some great
      or miraculous gift to enable you to share this grace and love of God
      with the world – He will provide whatever you might need whenever you
      will need it. Do not seek to acquire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but
      seek instead to acquire the Giver of the gifts, the Holy Spirit Himself.
      St Seraphim reminds us that the purpose of the Christian life is the
      acquisition of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit
      is not already with us, but rather that we must open ourselves more and
      more to His indwelling presence. If we live in union and communion with
      the Giver of good gifts and are filled to overflowing with His grace,
      there is no doubt that all of His gifts will be open and available to us
      whenever the need arises.

      In our own pride and sinfulness, we had destroyed our union and
      communion with God and with one another. In the Resurrection of Christ,
      our union and communion with God is restored, and at Pentecost, with the
      coming of the Holy Spirit, our union and communion with one another is
      likewise repaired. We, who are filled with the Holy Spirit are the means
      by which that healing balm of grace flows into the whole world,
      reconciling man to God and restoring the communion of love with one another.



      --
      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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