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homily for 12/16/09 - P26 - redeeming the time

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  • Fr David Moser
    “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2009
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      “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
      Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not
      unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is”. Eph 5:9-19

      God has given to us many gifts, however, it is necessary for us to use
      these gifts well and wisely. If a highly skilled craftsmen were to be
      placed in a workshop with a every tool imaginable in perfect working
      order and if he were given the best supplies to work with and the plans
      and examples of the kind of finished pieces that were possible, it would
      be expected that he would produce excellent work. However in order to do
      this, our craftsman would have to take the tools in hand and using the
      plans and examples as a guide begin to work on the raw material. He
      would need to work carefully, applying his skills and talents in order
      to use the tools to their best effect so that in the end he would
      produce a beautiful work of his craft. On the other had, if the
      craftsman did nothing, no finished product would be forthcoming; or if
      he misused his tools or simply was not careful then the end result would
      be flawed at best and he might end up with simply spoiling the materials
      that he had been given. If he did not follow the plan or example that he
      had been given then his finished product might bear no resemblance at
      all to that which was desired. In order to produce a finished product
      that was beautiful, functional and that fulfilled its purpose, it is
      necessary first that the craftsman use the time he had been given in the
      workshop and not neglect the task at hand. It is also necessary for him
      to use the tools he had been given not carelessly or ineptly, but rather
      applying all his skill to use them to their best advantage. Finally it
      is necessary that the craftsman follow the plan and examples given so
      that what he produces resembles the desired end product.

      This is the same situation in which we find ourselves as Christians. We
      have been placed in a workshop with every possible tool – that is we
      have been placed in the Church by the rebirth of baptism and given every
      aspect of the tradition of the Church as a tool. We are filled with the
      Holy Spirit in our chrismation who guides and directs us in the use of
      those tools, just as the craftsman has his skill. We are given the “raw
      material” of our own self and the plan set before us is the Gospel.
      Using these tools and this workshop we are to shape and form ourselves
      into the likeness of Christ. As examples we have the choir of the saints
      so that we can see the many forms that this likeness can take and the
      many means by which this form is expressed. The time we have been given
      for this task is this life.

      In order to embark upon this task it is necessary that we do not waste
      the time that has been given to us. Every moment is precious and cannot
      be regained once it is spent. If we are negligent and slothful, we will
      allow those precious moments to be wasted, as water that is spilled to
      the ground and there spent to no effect. Therefore Christian, awake from
      your slumber do not sleep through this life, but diligently begin to use
      wisely the time you have been given. The spiritual book, The Way of the
      Ascetics, begins with this very instruction saying, “If you wish to save
      your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign
      of the cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and o the
      Holy Spirit. Amen. …Long enough have you dallied, sunk in indifference
      and laziness, you have let much valuable time go to waste. … Arise,
      then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till
      ‘tonight’ or ‘tomorrow’ or ‘later, when I have finished what I have to
      do just now’ The interval may be fatal. No, this moment, the instant you
      make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have … begun
      a new life…” St Herman of Alaska echoes this urgency when he says,
      “…from this very day, from this hour, from this minute, strive to love
      God above all and fulfill his holy will!” There is no time to lose for
      any of us, whether old or young, whether healthy or ill, no matter who
      we are or what our situation, from this moment on we must no longer
      waste time, but focus on working out our salvation.

      Not only must we begin working now, but we must use all the skill that
      we have and all the tools that God has placed at our disposal. For this
      God has given to us His Holy Spirit and lives in us. He is the master
      craftsman and through the grace that He bestows upon us we can use what
      He has given us with deftness and skill that we might conform to His
      image and likeness. Therefore we must not rely upon ourselves, but
      rather we must act in such a way that we say with the Apostle, “not I,
      but Christ in me.” We have many spiritual tools in the Church, some more
      basic than others and some more powerful than others. The proper use and
      application of these tools is given to us in the tradition and life of
      the Church. Also we are given helpers and guides who are appointed to
      help us apply all of these tools in the most effective manner. These
      helpers are our priests and our spiritual elders. The elders are those
      who by their lives have gained some experience and wisdom in the use of
      these spiritual tools. They can give sober advice based on what they
      have experienced in their own lives and struggles. Also we have the
      clergy who are given the special grace by God in their ordination to
      provide the help and direction to care for the flock of Christ and bring
      us all safely into the heavenly kingdom.

      It is incumbent then that we always work under supervision and guidance
      so that we avoid the danger of misusing the tools that we have and thus
      injuring ourselves. Let us take the example of fasting. Fasting is a
      basic and powerful tool for denying oneself and clearing out the rubbish
      that sin has left in our lives by the unchecked passions. The regular
      routine of fasting that we have been given – the four fasting seasons as
      well as the Wednesday and Friday fasts – are well within the ability of
      nearly everyone and are an effective use of this spiritual tool.
      However, there are those who, out of a desire to work harder or overcome
      some difficult obstacle might wish to undertake a stricter or longer
      fast. Or there may be someone, who by physical necessity or weakness
      might seek to lessen the fast for a time. There is nothing wrong with
      this in theory, however, when increasing or decreasing the intensity of
      the fast one must do so with care so that on one hand you don’t take on
      a task greater than your strength and fall into despair or pride or on
      the other hand you don’t dilute the fast so much that it has really no
      beneficial effect but you are deceived into thinking that you have
      accomplished much when in fact there is nothing. The guard against this
      is to have an experienced helper oversee such departures from the norm
      and so one should undertake these changes only with the blessing of the
      priest or spiritual father. This similar kind of proper and mis- use of
      the tools of spiritual labor can be found in every specific. Therefore,
      not only must we begin working now, but we must begin working with
      wisdom and carefully so that we do not harm ourselves and fall into
      delusion and despair on one hand or so that we do not waste our efforts
      and believe that we have accomplished much when nothing has been done at
      all.

      We are also given the plan of the Gospel and the examples of the saints.
      It is necessary when working always to have the goal of Jesus Christ
      before us as we struggle to follow the path of salvation that He has set
      before us. If we are constantly referring to the plan and to the
      example, we can see quickly any deviation or imperfection that might
      arise in our work and correct it while it is still small. If on the
      other hand we allow such errors to go on, they continue to grow and
      become more and more serious until a great deal of work is required to
      correct what in the beginning might have been only a small effort. This
      we do by daily reading the Gospel and by reading also the lives of the
      saints so that they are familiar to us. In our prayers it is good to ask
      the saints to assist us by their own prayers before the throne of God
      for as the scripture tells us “the prayer of the righteous man avails much.”

      Therefore, my brothers and sisters, redeem the time – do not wait or
      delay but begin, this very day, this very hour, this very minute to
      follow Christ and walk in the path of salvation. Do this with wisdom and
      with care walking circumspectly and with wisdom. Follow the traditions
      of the Church and the directions of your spiritual guides for in this
      way we know that we use what God has given to us properly and wisely.
      Finally do not lose sight of your goal but always, by “psalms, hymns and
      spiritual songs,” that is by the reading of scripture and the prayers
      and services of the Church keep our Lord Jesus Christ always before your
      eyes and in your heart; be not unwise but understand what the will of
      the Lord is. Keep your attention on the One Who has made you and Who
      loves you with the perfect love. In this way work out your salvation and
      bring to fulfillment and expression within yourself the image and
      likeness of God with which you were created.

      --
      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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