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Homily for 7/26/09 - P7 - humility & caring for one another

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  • Fr David Moser
    Romans 15:1-7 The key virtue, the one that unlocks all the other virtues, is humility. The fathers tell us that humility is the mother of all virtues, in that
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26, 2009
      Romans 15:1-7

      The key virtue, the one that unlocks all the other virtues, is humility.
      The fathers tell us that humility is the mother of all virtues, in that
      if one gains humility then everything else will follow. In this manner,
      humility and love (which is the greatest of the fruits of the Spirit)
      are closely linked. He who loves others gives his life for them and the
      humble man puts others before himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Love
      incarnate – even while we were yet sinners, He gave His life for us that
      we might be saved. Our Lord is also the supreme example of humility for
      even though He was the Creator, He took upon Himself the life of a
      creature that in lowering Himself, He might raise us up to heaven.

      We heard in the epistle today of this same quality. Although the words
      “love” and “humility” are not mentioned, their characteristics are
      described for us: “We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of
      the weak and not to please ourselves.” This is exactly what it means to
      love others and what it means to be humble. It is the essence of love
      for someone that the strong man, not thinking of himself, should spend
      his strength carrying the burdens of his weaker brother. We who are
      united to one another by the love of God ought to have this attitude
      towards our brethren. Perhaps you do not consider yourself strong and
      yet there are times when your strength in a particular moment, in a
      particular situation, is greater than that of your brother or sister
      here. When you find yourself in that situation, then indeed you are
      strong and the task that God has given you is to use your strength to
      care for the weaker one next to you. In a different circumstance the
      situation may be reversed where you are the weaker one, needing to be
      cared for by your neighbor who is at this moment, in this situation
      stronger. Here then is the seed and source of humility – to care for one
      another, to give help when you are able and possibly even more
      difficult, to accept help when you need it.

      I was once asked, “Father, how do you do it? How do you live? You are so
      strong, and we are all so weak.” I replied that I live by giving to
      others what God has given to me. What I did not say, but what is equally
      true, is that there are many times, when I am in great need of help,
      when I am weak, facing temptations or difficulties and I need someone
      who is stronger than I to help me through. In these times it is you who
      are strong and I who am weak. I cannot begin to tell each of you how
      often your strength has come to my aid, when you have lifted me up and
      have assisted me in my life; when you have had exactly what I have
      needed and have given to me freely. We do indeed care for one another.

      The second quality of the life of a humble person is that he does not
      please himself, but rather considers the needs and edification of his
      neighbor. Does not God Himself do this over and over again. Rather than
      destroy the sin which He hates and the world in which it breeds and
      lives, God has repeatedly stayed His hand and acted in love for our
      interests choosing to heal the hurts of sin and evil and to work with us
      that we may recover from this sickness that has infected us and by which
      we infect the world. This sickness is of course sin and death and God,
      in order to cure us of this illness, lowered Himself from heaven and
      took on Himself our flesh, placing Himself in the midst of the infection
      and filth of sin for our sake. He lived the life that we live; He
      suffered in this world as we do; He took upon himself all of our sins
      and bore them even to the cross and death for our sake. He became like
      us, so that we might become like Him. God did not please Himself, but
      rather he considered us and our needs and acted on our behalf. In the
      same way we must strive to live not for ourselves alone, but rather
      always considering the needs of our neighbor and acting on their behalf.

      This act of caring for others and is not an easy one. Another person
      once told me “People expect me to give something to them and I feel like
      I have run out of me.” We are after all, finite creatures with only
      limited strength and resources. If we constantly give of ourselves to
      others, it seems inevitable that we will someday run out of ourselves
      and have nothing left. The key to this is humility; we do not rely on
      giving solely on what we have of ourselves, for really we have nothing.
      It is not only necessary to give help, but it is equally necessary to
      accept help. This constant giving and receiving from one another allows
      that cycle to continue without anyone “running out” of themselves. Even
      more than this though we must remember that God Himself is part of this
      equation. He gives to us freely of Himself – and He is infinite. God is
      the bottomless well upon which we can draw freely; He is the font from
      which flows the never ending river of living water. God gives to us in
      abundance and what we have received from God we can freely give to
      others, for God will never “run out” of Himself. He is a well and a
      fountain that will never run dry. He constantly gives to us more than we
      could possibly imagine. It is indeed true that in ourselves we have
      nothing, for all that we have comes from God. If God is the source of
      our life and our strength, then we can freely given all that we have and
      more and never “run out”. The key here is not to give out of “me” but to
      give out of all that God has given me.

      In order that we might not forget that He cares for us, God has given to
      us many reminders, especially in the Scripture, of His care for us. It
      is good to be aquainted not only with the Gospel and with the Epistles,
      but to read the whole of the Old Testament as well, the Law and the
      Prophets, the stories of God’s care for His people throughout the ages.
      Today we also remember the Archangel Gabriel and his many appearances to
      men as the messenger of God. Through his words and actions, we are
      reminded of how God has cared for us throughout the ages. It was the
      Archangel Gabriel who was sent by God to the Prophet Moses while he was
      in exile tending the sheep of his father in law to instruct him in how
      God created the world and all that is in it (which Moses recorded for us
      in the book of Genesis). It was the Archangel Gabriel who appeared to
      the Prophet Daniel, showing him the mystery of the things to come and of
      the coming of the Savior. It was the Archangel Gabriel who appeared to
      St Anna, a woman old and without children, and promised her the birth of
      a daughter – the ever virgin Mary. It was the Archangel Gabriel who
      appeared to the high priest Zachariah and told him the news that he
      would have a son – the prophet and forerunner John. It was the Archangel
      Gabriel who brought the news to the Virgin Mary that she would
      miraculously bear God incarnate. It was the Archangel Gabriel who
      appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem, to Joseph the betrothed, to the
      Lord Himself in the Garden of Gethsemene. Even as we look at the actions
      of the Archangel Gabriel we see a litany of the works of God as He cares
      for us and as He gives to us out of His own abundance. All this is for
      our encouragement, to constantly remind us that we are in the hand of God.

      The end result of this mutual giving is that we are united to one
      another. Having shared all that we have and all that we are with one
      another, and in turn having received all that we have and all that we
      are both from God and from our brethren, we are then united to one
      another and are become one with God and with each other. For this
      reason, though the grace of God, we are able to lift up our minds and
      hearts in unity and to pray with one voice. With one mind and one mouth
      we glorify God – and not only us here in this small community, but we
      are united with all those who are united with Christ in every place and
      in every time. In this manner we are united with the saints and they
      with us so that together, with one mind and one heart glorifying God we
      may enter into our reward in His Kingdom. All this has come to us through humility, the mother of all virtues and through love, the greatest of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

      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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