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Homily for 1/24/10 - P&P - presecution

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  • Fr David Moser
    2 Timothy 3:10-15 The Apostle tells his spiritual son, Timothy, of the many persecutions and afflictions that he suffered for Christ, pointing out that this is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 24, 2010
      2 Timothy 3:10-15

      The Apostle tells his spiritual son, Timothy, of the many persecutions
      and afflictions that he suffered for Christ, pointing out that this is
      not unique only to him, but all of us who desire to live godly lives in
      Christ Jesus will suffer in the same manner. Even as we look around in
      the world today we see our Christian faith suffering from constant
      pressure of the world pushing it further and further from the mainstream
      of our daily lives. Christian symbols such as the Precious Cross or the
      Ten Commandments are being removed from public places; public prayer in
      school and in other public gatherings is increasingly eliminated; even
      the acknowledgement that we are one nation under God in the pledge to
      the flag is in danger of being eliminated. In Europe as well the
      international court has forced Italy to remove the crucifix from school
      rooms and Greece is now being pressed to eliminate the daily prayers
      with which classes begin and to remove the Holy icons from classrooms
      (this despite that fact that Orthodox Christianity is the state religion
      of Greece). It would seem that our Christian faith is increasingly under
      pressure to be eliminated from public life. It may well be that soon we
      too, who confess Christ openly will face prejudice and persecution for
      our faith.

      St Nicolai Velimirovic in his reflections and homilies commented on this
      persecution that we share in common with the Apostles and martyrs. I
      would like to share his comments today with you all.

      “The True Faith must be persecuted in this world. The Savior Himself
      said this clearly and openly to His apostles. St. Apollinaris of
      Hierapolis in writing against the Montanist heretics says: " Let them
      tell us before God who, out of all their prophets, beginning with
      Montanus and his wives, was persecuted by the Jews and killed by the
      ungodly? No one. Who, from among them was taken away for of the Name of
      Christ and was crucified on the cross? Again, no one. Have any one of
      the women ever been flogged or stoned in the Jewish synagogues? Nowhere
      and never." However, the Orthodox saint wants to say, that the True
      Faith must be persecuted in this world. Heresies are generally closer to
      the worldly and demonic spirit, which is why the world and the demon do
      not persecute their own. To be constantly persecuted, with brief
      intervals in between, is a characteristic of the Faith and of the
      Orthodox Church. This persecution existed throughout all of history,
      either from without or within; externally from unbelievers and
      internally from heretics.

      "In fact, all who want to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"
      (2 Timothy 3:12).

      “The Lord Jesus prophesied this and by His example He proved it. The
      apostles also said this and by their examples they proved it. All the
      God-bearing Fathers of the Church, confessors and martyrs said this and
      they proved this by their example. Therefore, is there any need to doubt
      that, through a narrow door, one enters the kingdom of God? Should we
      hesitate for a moment that, "it is necessary for us to undergo many
      hardships to enter the kingdom of God?" No, there is no basis nor
      justification for doubt. Can sheep live among the wolves and not be
      attacked by them? Can a candle burn in the midst of cross winds and not
      sway back and forth? Can a good fruit-bearing tree grow along side the
      road and not be disturbed by passersby? Thus, the Church of pious souls
      cannot but be persecuted and be persecuted by heathens, by idolaters, by
      heretics, by apostates, from passions and vices, from sin and
      transgressions, from the world and by demons. So it is that not one
      devout soul can remain without persecution, be it externally or
      internally, until it is separated from the body and the world. Someone
      might oppose this and prove it otherwise according to his calculation
      and according to his logic. But, in this case, neither the mind nor the
      logic of one man is of any avail. Thousands who were crucified speak
      otherwise, thousands burned alive cry out otherwise, thousands who were
      beheaded prove otherwise and thousands who were drowned witness
      otherwise. O my brethren, the Christian Faith is mighty not only when it
      agrees with sensory reasoning and sensory logic but when, and especially
      when, it contradicts sensory reasoning and sensory logic.

      “Those who want to live a godly-life will be persecuted. This the
      apostle prophesied at the beginning of the Christian era and twenty
      Christian centuries render a multi-voiced echo to confirm the truth of
      the prophecy.

      “O risen Lord, grant us light that we may be pious to the end and give
      us the strength to endure persecution to the end. To Thee be glory and
      praise forever, Amen.”

      St Nicolai’s words were oddly prophetic as we look on them now for we
      see that his own people – the Serbian nation – have born the brunt of
      the fury of the new and humanistic world power. Their spiritual heritage
      has been ripped from their bosom and stolen from them in the name of
      human rights. As a people they have been demonized by the international
      media as monsters – all because they will not compromise their faithful
      love of God, yield their way of life and acquiesce to the demands of a
      humanistic society.

      The world in which we live is becoming not only non-Christian but
      anti-Christian. The hands that restrained the spread of evil in the
      world, the Christian kings and emperors have all been overthrown and
      replaced by governments that revere the rights and freedoms of the
      individual over the law of God. Human rights has replaced Divine right
      and self-determination has replaced dependence upon God. All these
      things that we see happening on the large scale or far away will come,
      in one way or another, to us personally. There are a multitude of social
      issues from the right to kill unborn children to the destruction of
      marriage and family life by recognition of abnormal sexuality as normal
      and medical procedures which circumvent the natural manner of having
      children. It does not matter upon which side one falls in the political
      debate, for these things are nothing more than symptoms of the world
      which is increasingly in rebellion against God. If the world rejects and
      persecutes and kills the Master, will the faithful servants of the
      Master suffer any less fate?

      Great Lent is coming soon. It is a small and voluntary suffering that we
      take upon ourselves in order to train for the difficulties that will
      come upon us unawares. By denying ourselves now a little, we will gain
      the strength and ability to endure great sufferings later on. By cutting
      off our dependence on the things of this world, we will instead be given
      the bounty and riches of the Kingdom of God. By delaying our
      gratification at this moment, we will obtain the eternal gratification
      and blessedness of the world to come.

      Persecution and suffering for our faith will come to us. It may be on
      one hand a small inconvenience or it may be a violent hate crime. The
      form of the persecution does not matter, it is instead the fact that we
      will be called to share in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ and
      in so doing will share in His Resurrection and will live in Him with
      great joy throughout eternity. Therefore, imitate the Apostles and
      Martyrs and the righteous ones who are our examples and our forefathers.
      Like them let us also confess our Lord Jesus Christ boldly and without
      fear knowing that our God will sustain us through every trial that in
      the end we might enter into His joy and into the glory of His Kingdom.

      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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