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Homily for 8/9/09 - P9 - Building the temple of the Holy Spirit

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  • Fr David Moser
    1 Cor 3:9-17 The Holy Apostle calls us God’s garden and God’s temple. This he does so that we might begin to understand that our salvation is not a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 9, 2009
      1 Cor 3:9-17

      The Holy Apostle calls us God’s garden and God’s temple. This he does so
      that we might begin to understand that our salvation is not a finished
      thing, but a work in progress. Just as a garden grows and in time bears
      fruit, so also the seed of grace is planted in our hearts by the Holy
      Spirit and it grows and develops in us, bearing fruit in due time. So
      also a building does not spring to existence in a moment, but once the
      foundation is set, then the building is erected upon the foundation by
      diligent workmen and adorned according to its use. Our foundation is
      Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. The foundation
      having been laid in our hearts is ready for the building that we
      ourselves will erect by our diligent labor.

      Whether or not the garden is fruitful, depends on the labor of the
      gardener. The seed is there and the sun and rain are given by God, but
      there is the necessity that the gardener also work to till the soil and
      make it conducive to the growth of the crops. The gardener also portions
      out the water and fertilizer according to the needs of the plants –
      giving more when there is need and less when there is abundance. By
      watching the growth of the garden, the labor of the gardener becomes

      The finished state of a building, likewise depends on the labor of the
      builder. If the builder works carefully, with skill and dedication,
      using only the best materials, then the building will stand and endure.
      But if the builder is lax then the building will not be finished, or if
      he is negligent and careless, there will be defects and faults in the
      construction which will threaten to bring down the building. If the
      builder misuses the materials that he is given or selects only the
      poorest materials, then again the building will be of poor quality and
      will not endure. But a building that is built with diligence, care and
      with the best materials will stand as the crowning glory of the
      foundation upon which it was built.

      The Apostle speaks of himself here as a “wise masterbuilder”. This he
      does not to aggrandize himself, but to demonstrate for us what it is
      that makes for a wise builder that we too might build wisely. He is a
      wise masterbuilder not because of his own cleverness or skill or any
      other attribute, but rather solely because of the grace that God has
      given to him. If we wish to follow in his example and to build wisely
      upon the foundation of Christ laid in us by the grace of the Holy
      Spirit, then, like the Apostle we must rely entirely upon that same
      grace. Like him, we must build according to the plan that God gives and
      using the materials that God has provided, using those materials in the
      manner prescribed by God. If we do this, then we will build a
      magnificent temple which stands as a fit dwelling for the Holy Spirit.

      Thus it is incumbent upon us as Christians to be diligent in attending
      to the progress of our own souls. In the mystery of Holy Baptism, the
      foundation of Christ was laid for us and now the task of building upon
      that foundation has been given to us. But we are not left to invent a
      fit temple for God according to our own whims and ideas, but rather from
      the very beginning we are given help and direction. We are given the
      example of the greatest temples which are the saints upon which to
      pattern our own efforts. Not only that, but in the lives of the saints
      we are able to learn about their building techniques in the way that
      they lived. We see the value in the struggles of self denial and ascetic
      labor. The power of the Gospel and the importance of prayer is evident
      in their lives. The saints have built their lives well upon the
      foundation of Christ and it is very apparent that they are good examples
      for us.

      Not only do we have the example of the saints, but we also have their
      spiritual writings and more importantly the Holy Scripture in which the
      truths of the spiritual life are written down for our use as though they
      were blueprints or plans. As we read the Scripture, the plan of the
      salvation of mankind is laid out for us by God Himself. We see the great
      goal that He has set before us, to become like Him and live in union
      with Him. We see the great mystery of His incarnation in order that we
      might more easily grasp the Truth of His self-revelation to us. We see
      the great love that He has bestowed upon us that while we were yet
      sinners, He gave Himself for us. We see His victory by His glorious
      Resurrection over our enemies; sin, death and the devil. He has taken
      our flesh and has glorified it before our eyes so that we will be able
      to see the glory for which He has destined us. In the Scripture we have
      the written record of God’s self revelation to us so that we might have
      a plan to guide our building.

      All of these examples and plans are good, for they give us the concept
      and theory of our task, however, our help does not end with this. God
      gives us also the Church to help us in applying and making real in our
      own daily lives the truths that we see from Scripture, the examples of
      the saints and the glory of Jesus Christ. The Church gives us first her
      way of life, embodied within the Holy Tradition of the Church. Tradition
      teaches us how to properly understand the writing of the Scripture so
      that we do not err by relying on our fallen reason, desires and
      feelings. Tradition provides the proper context for Scripture which
      enlightens and clarifies the Truth contained therein. The Tradition of
      the Church also shows us, in a multitude of details and customs, how the
      great and transcendent Truths contained in the Scripture are translated
      into the moment by moment events of our daily lives. Even Tradition,
      however, is not enough for our salvation is personal and so we are given
      personal helpers, instructors and guides. The clergy of the Church, the
      bishops, priests and deacons are the shepherds of the flock of Christ.
      It is they who lead us and walk beside us. Through the sacraments they
      strengthen us to get through the difficulties at hand. Through their
      words and guidance, they point out our errors and correct our paths so
      that we do not go astray but remain on the true path of salvation (for
      this the sacrament of ordination bestows upon the priest divine help and
      wisdom so that his words are not only human but also endowed with divine
      grace and wisdom.)

      In addition to all this, our Lord, through the Church gives us one more
      thing. Learning all the goals and techniques and so on is important,
      however, it is equally important to be encouraged and motivated. For
      this we are given each other. We undertake this task to build the temple
      of the Holy Spirit not alone, but in the company of fellow laborers. We
      are all working toward the same goal, working with the same material,
      working according to the same plan. Thus as we work, we encourage each
      other, we build up each other, we strengthen each other. This is no
      small thing, rather it is just as vital to our success as is the plan

      The Apostle reminds us at the end of this reading that we are the temple
      of the Holy Spirit. We undertake this task to build the temple on the
      foundation of Christ laid in our hearts. But we do not undertake this
      task alone – our Lord gives us examples and plans and directions. He
      teaches us the skills that we will need and provides us with guides and
      helpers. He also gives to us each other, that we might encourage and
      help one another. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit – a work in
      progress of which God is the architect and planner, and of which you
      yourself are the builder and laborer. Therefore, brothers and sisters,
      labor diligently to build up the temple of your soul, carefully,
      skillfully, according to the plan of God with the gold, silver and
      precious stones of righteousness so that you may become a worthy temple
      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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