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Homily for 1/3/10 - 1b4nat - Faith

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  • Fr David Moser
    Hebrews 11:9-10, 17-23, 32-40 Matthew 1:1-25 Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1) Today, we look ahead to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2010
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      Hebrews 11:9-10, 17-23, 32-40
      Matthew 1:1-25

      Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things
      not seen. (Heb 11:1)

      Today, we look ahead to the celebration of our Lord’s birth, which is
      the fulfillment of a promise made by God first to Adam after the fall
      and from then on to all those who worshipped the one true God. Today, we
      remember those who believed the promise of God, who had faith that what
      they had not yet seen would indeed come to pass, that God would do as He
      had said and would come into the world, would defeat sin, death and the
      devil, would deliver His people from their captivity to sin and lead
      them into His Kingdom. In both the readings from the Gospel and from the
      Epistle we hear an accounting of men and women who believed God and
      acted on His promise, even though they had not yet seen its fulfillment.
      These are the men and women of faith who are held up today as our examples.

      By faith … Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses,
      Gideon, Barack and a host of others ordered their lives, made their
      decisions, and acted in key moments according to their belief in the
      promises of God. Just as they acted in faith so we too are called to
      life based on faith in the promises of God. Faith informs our choices;
      faith gives us a basis for our actions. These saints of the Old
      Testament, of whom we are reminded today, had faith in the coming of the
      Messiah, God incarnate, who would free them from their captivity to sin,
      death and the devil and who would take them into His own Kingdom to be
      with Him. Abraham was called by God to leave his homeland and to travel
      to a distant land which God promised would belong to him and his
      children. God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as many as
      the stars in the sky, and yet when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice
      his only son, Abraham obeyed, for he had faith that God would not fail
      in His promise and that if necessary God would raise Isaac from the dead
      for He would not fail to keep His promise. Abraham’s choice to obey God
      was shaped by His faith that God would be faithful and that God would
      keep His promises. By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, out of their
      accustomed order, but trusting still in the promises of God. By faith
      Jacob left the land given by God to Abraham and his descendants and
      journeyed to Egypt, knowing that he would return, for God would not
      abandon him in a strange land. Because of his faith, Jacob on his
      deathbed, gave instructions that his remains should be taken back to the
      promised land when his descendants returned for by faith, he knew that
      they would not stay forever in Egypt. All of these men and women acted
      according to their faith that God would not abandon them and that God
      would keep His promises. They believed God. Although the circumstances
      of their lives were different to each, they each had this one thing in
      common. They believed God and they all knew that God had promised to
      come into the world to deliver them and take them into His Kingdom. They
      lived knowing that God would not fail them or abandon them and that this
      promise would come to pass.

      Now we stand just a few days away from the celebration of the birth of
      Jesus Christ. In just a few days, the promise made by God to Adam, to
      Abraham and his seed, to us will be fulfilled. Christ is born, God has
      come into the world in order that He might free us from our slavery to
      sin and lead us on the path of salvation into His Kingdom that we might
      live forever with Him. God did not fail in His promise to come to us at
      the proper time, nor did he fail in His promise to free us from our
      captivity to sin death and the devil. Neither will He fail us in His
      promise to lead us into His Kingdom, to unite us to Himself that we
      might live in union and communion with Him.

      Just as the men and women of faith who lived before the coming of the
      Messiah ordered their lives in accordance with their faith in God and
      their belief that He would not abandon them, so also we, who live after
      the coming of Christ must similarly order our lives according to the
      promises of God. First, we must not doubt that what has come to pass is
      indeed the fulfillment of God’s promise. There are many in the world who
      would try to cause us to doubt that Jesus Christ is the incarnate God.
      They will say that He is a myth, a legend, an inspired man, a mere
      prophet, a good man, an enlightened man and so on. But we know that
      Jesus Christ was more than just a man – He is the God/man who has come
      into the world to free us from our sin and lead us on the path of
      salvation. He is the fulfillment of the promise of God. As we get
      further and further away from the moment of the incarnation, it seems to
      get dimmer and more clouded with doubt. We counteract that doubt by
      acting as did Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the others, with faith. We
      have the same faith that God loves us, that He cares for us and will not
      abandon us. Whereas they had faith that God would come to them, we have
      faith that God has come to us. Having that faith that Jesus Christ is
      indeed God incarnate, we then turn and live according to His promises to
      us in the same way that our forefathers in faith lived. Jesus Christ has
      promised that whoever will follow Him on the path that He has set before
      us will come into the Kingdom of God and will live with Him in paradise.
      This path is not easy for it begins with self denial and it leads
      through the cross. As we follow this path we will face the attacks of
      the evil one who has himself rebelled against God and is infuriated that
      anyone else would try and follow God. But our Lord has promised us that
      He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that He will give
      to us all that we need to follow Him. He has promised us that He will
      protect us from the soul destroying attacks of the evil one and allow
      only that which we are able to withstand to reach us. All we need to do
      now, is to believe in the promises of God and act according to faith. If
      we believe that Jesus Christ has lifted us from the sea of life in this
      world of temptation and passions as He lifted Peter drowning in the sea
      of Galillee and that He has put us safely in the ark of salvation, that
      is the Church, just as he brought Peter safely into the boat with the
      other disciples, then we can act in faith that if we remain in the ark
      of salvation and order our lives according to the revelation of Jesus
      Christ preserved therein, that He will bring us safely to the far shore,
      safely into His Kingdom. Increasingly the world seems to become more and
      more hostile to the Church and to the way of life of those who follow
      Christ. Every day, it seems, life becomes more difficult for those who
      will follow Christ. However, we must also recall that our Lord has
      promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that He will
      lead us into His kingdom, that He will bring us into a life of union and
      communion with Himself. We need only to live as did our forefathers in
      faith – in complete confidence and assurance that God will fulfill His
      promises to us. We must live, as they did, by faith.

      Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things
      not seen. God has come to us and has dwelt among us. He has freed us
      from the captivity of sin, death and the devil. He has placed us within
      the arms of the Church, the ark of salvation wherein we can find and
      follow the path of salvation. He has promised us that we need only to
      follow this path and with His help we will enter into His presence, into
      His kingdom, and into life with Him in eternity. By faith, Abraham,
      Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the others, ordered their lives according to
      the promises of God. By faith, the Holy Apostles, the martyrs and
      confessors and all our fathers and mothers among the saints have ordered
      their lives according to the promises of God following the path of
      salvation. By faith we too are called to live, following that same path
      as did they so that together we might enter the Kingdom of God and live
      in union and communion with Him throughout eternity.


      --
      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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