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Homily for 10/5/09 - P20 - preserving the revelation of God

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  • Fr David Moser
    Galatians 1:11-19 Our Lord Jesus Christ is the full and complete self revelation of God to man. In His incarnation is embodied the fullness of the Godhead. All
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2009
      Galatians 1:11-19

      Our Lord Jesus Christ is the full and complete self revelation of God to
      man. In His incarnation is embodied the fullness of the Godhead. All
      that we can know about God is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. The
      Apostles were chosen by Christ to be the receivers of that divine self
      revelation. The entire revelation of the incarnation was given to the
      Apostles, who in turn gave it to the whole world. Nothing was held back,
      nothing was reserved, nothing was hidden – God revealed Himself to us
      that we might know Him and be known of Him. That is the wonder of the
      incarnation and the wonder of the Gospel. The preaching of the Apostles
      were not just another religious system or philosophy, rather it was
      simply the witness of what they saw and heard and experienced – God
      became man and dwelt among us that we might behold His glory, the glory
      of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

      As one late come to this revelation, the Holy Apostle Paul writes today
      that He too did not learn of this revelation from others, but rather
      received the revelation from Jesus Christ Himself as did the other
      Apostles. He did not receive a new revelation or something different
      from the other Apostles, but rather He experienced the incarnation of
      Jesus Christ even as they did, receiving the same truth, complete and
      without change. It is this heritage that he tells us about in the
      Epistle that we read today.

      Having received this great revelation of the truth, the Holy Apostle
      Paul and the other Apostles preached it to the whole world. Their
      preaching consisted simply of telling what they had seen and heard and
      experienced. Their preaching was at the same time simple and deeply
      profound. It was so powerful that it changed the whole world and
      continues to change the world to this day. We, who are baptized into
      Christ and have therefore put on Christ have entered into the same
      revelation, the same experience of the incarnate God as did the
      Apostles. Even today, that revelation has not changed, it is the same
      yesterday, today and forever.

      From the very beginning, however, the enemy of mankind, the evil one
      and his demons, have sought to twist and distort this revelation. They
      have fought against the Church as the repository of the Truth.
      Physically we see the manifestation of this fight in the waves of
      martyrdom and persecution that swept the Church time and again as the
      evil one sought to extinguish the light of the Truth by sheer force. At
      the same time, however, there was also the battle to twist the Truth so
      that it would become clouded and hidden and distorted so that it was no
      longer accessible to men. This distortion of the truth is made clear by
      the rise of heretical or erroneous beliefs. Some of the heresies became
      so widespread and so popular that the Church found it necessary to
      address them directly. This was done by the convening of the Church
      councils. The Apostle Paul confirms the necessity of not acting alone,
      but acting always within the context of the whole Church. He tells us
      that He was not taught this doctrine by men, not even by the other
      Apostles, but rather that He to received the revelation of Jesus Christ
      directly; however, he did not act alone but rather sought out the
      Apostle Peter as the leader of the Apostles, and James the brother of
      the Lord as the leading bishop of the Church (that is in Jerusalem) in
      order to confirm that what he had received was genuine and not a
      distortion of the truth. In the Church we never act alone, but always in
      harmony with the whole Church.

      There were many Church councils held throughout the history of the
      Church – the first we hear of in the book of Acts when the Apostles were
      gathered to discuss the requirements for the entry of gentiles into the
      Church. A few of these councils were of such great importance and
      widespread relevance that they were called Ecumenical councils and were
      received as authoritative by the whole Church. Today we remember the
      members of the last of these great councils – the fathers of the seventh
      ecumenical council. These councils, starting with the first apostolic
      council in Jerusalem recorded in the book of Acts and continuing on even
      to this day, separated truth from error and maintained the clear and
      pure revelation given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles. The dogmatic
      definitions of the great councils stand even today as the hallmarks of
      our faith. The Symbol of Faith, the Nicene Creed, or as it is often
      called the “Veruyu” or “I believe”, is the product of two of the
      ecumenical councils (held in the cities of Nicea and Constantinople) and
      is still the concise summary and confession of the Orthodox faith that
      we use today.

      These seven ecumenical councils and all the lesser councils throughout
      history were not called to develop new aspects of theology, nor was
      their purpose to discover or endorse new teachings or new revelations.
      The full and complete revelation of the truth had already been given in
      Jesus Christ. The purpose and task of these councils was to clear away
      the distortions that had arisen and been nurtured by the evil one which
      threatened to cloud and hide the truth from us. Even today, although the
      era of the great Ecumenical Councils has passed, our Church continues to
      have councils to address important issues. There are conciliar decrees
      which cover all manner of topics which have arisen with the changes that
      have come about in our world. New medical and biological breakthroughs
      imply new moral questions – new technology requires us to adapt to an
      ever changing world – new awareness of our responsibility as stewards of
      creation has been the fruit of ecological observations and studies. All
      of these topics and more are addressed, in one way or another, by the
      local councils of the Church. These decrees and letters and
      proclamations from the hierarchs of our Church help us to perceive
      clearly the revelation of Christ which is the light of the world.

      This then is the gift of God to us – a full and complete revelation of
      Himself through the incarnation. This revelation can only be grasped by
      experience – by direct participation in the life of Christ. The Apostles
      were the first to receive this revelation and they began to preach to
      the whole world, telling all what they had seen and heard and
      experienced. But it is not just hearing what others have experienced
      that makes us Christians, but rather, having heard of their experience,
      we too are invited to join them in the experience of the life of Christ
      through the rebirth of baptism, through the indwelling of the Holy
      Spirit in chrismation, through the encounter with the Risen Christ in
      Holy Communion of His most holy Body and most precious Blood. We commune
      with Him in prayer, we depend on Him to provide every need of our lives,
      both material and spiritual. We sacrifice our lives in order that we may
      instead put on Christ and enter into the Life that He gives to us. The
      Orthodox Christian faith is not just a body of teaching, it is not just
      a philosophy or theology to which we agree. The Orthodox Christian faith
      is the direct experience of the Living God; participation in His Life
      and intimate communion with Him in that life. This is the gift that God
      gives to us all – the same gift, the same experience that the Apostle
      writes about in his epistle to the Church in Galatia and to us. God has
      revealed Himself to us that we might see His life, take it as our own
      and be united to Christ.

      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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