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Homily for 3/7/10 - L3 - The cross, the instrument of life

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  • Fr David Moser
    Heb 4:14-5:6 When we talk about God, we often find ourselves at a loss for words. He is beyond our ability to describe, in fact it is hard even to think of Him
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2010
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      Heb 4:14-5:6

      When we talk about God, we often find ourselves at a loss for words. He
      is beyond our ability to describe, in fact it is hard even to think of
      Him as He is. He is so great, so different from us that we can only
      describe Him in the vaguest of terms or with metaphors that are woefully
      inadequate or which require a disclaimer not to push the imagery too far
      or take it too literally. God is so far beyond our ability to perceive
      Him and understand Him that without His help we could not even begin to
      conceive of his existence. But He gives us that help in many ways. In
      His creation, He leaves His fingerprints everywhere. We can see the
      image of His beauty all around us in nature. We can see His grandeur in
      the heavens. We can see his power and might in the natural force of
      movement of the wind and the sea and the earth. We can see His depth in
      the complexity of the molecules and cells. We can see His unity in the
      interconnectedness of all life. We can see His love for us in the love
      and care of parents for children. Everything in creation reveals to us
      something about God for that which is created always bears the mark, the
      signature, the imprint of its creator.

      God’s fingerprints in the natural world are not the only way that we
      know about Him. We know about Him also because we are created in His
      image and His likeness. That means that within each person there is a
      reflection of God. Sometimes that reflection is mostly hidden or
      distorted by sin and neglect. Sometimes that reflection appears ordinary
      and is taken for granted. Sometimes, as in the saints, that reflection
      is cleaned and polished and shows us a clearer image of God.

      There is still another way that we can know God. All of these
      fingerprints and images and reflections can only help us to know about
      God, but God in His great love for us desires not only that we know
      about Him, but that we come to know Him as our Father, and as our
      friend. In order to make this possible, God has taken the step of
      revealing Himself to us. In the beginning, God walked with our first
      parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden and there they communed
      with Him and knew Him. But that original knowledge of God was broken off
      as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Even though they no longer
      walked with God in the same intimacy and closeness, our first parents
      retained the memory of God and always sought for the way to return.
      Through the generations, however that memory waned and mankind soon
      forgot about the true God and began to make their own gods. In order to
      preserve the true knowledge of Himself in the world, God chose the man
      who had kept the old knowledge of God – Abraham – and through him and
      his descendents preserved the knowledge of the One True God and even
      more continued to reveal Himself to them through the law and the prophets.

      Even this self revelation through the law and the prophets was
      insufficient, however, for men to truly know God and to return to the
      intimate communion with God that had been enjoyed by our first parents
      before their sin. In order to restore this knowledge of the true God and
      to reopen the way to union and communion with Himself, God took a
      radical step. He, Himself, took on human flesh – the One of Whom we are
      a reflection became one of us and that reflection became a reality. In
      order that we might know Him and in order that He might fully know us,
      He came not as a shadow nor as a spirit, but fully and completely He
      became man and dwelt among us. He was born of the Virgin Mary, taking
      our flesh from her who was the most perfect human being ever born (for
      she was the fruit of the centuries of preparation through the
      generations of the chosen people). God Himself took flesh and was born
      as an infant, and He grew and developed in the world just as we do. He
      felt all that we feel, He experienced all that we experience. He went
      through poverty, persecution, hardship and homeless wandering. He was
      the guest of the wealthy and the poor alike and knew how they both
      lived. He ate rich food and simple fare alike. He knew joy and sorrow.
      He was frustrated and even angry. All these things that we experience,
      He Himself now experienced. He took on the fullness of our life from
      birth and growth and the life of adulthood and finally He experienced
      our death, that is the unnatural ripping of the soul from the body that
      we call death (for in this the body loses the animation of the soul).
      And having shared our life, He now offers to us the opportunity to share
      His life.

      Today we honor the memory of the life-giving Cross of our Lord. It is on
      the Cross that our Lord experienced the extremes of our own life. He
      experienced excruciating pain, for crucifixion was designed to be a
      torturous death. He experienced shame and mocking and derision, for
      crucifixion was the most shameful form of execution reserved for the
      worst and lowest of the condemned. He experienced the sight of his
      mother and his closest friends suffering at the sight of his own
      suffering. He experienced the cruelty of one human towards another. All
      of these extremes He took upon Himself and even in such a condition He
      took on all of our sin, all of our evil, all of the worst that humanity
      has to offer and He transformed it and changed it. In His suffering, He
      did not complain but patiently endured all. In the midst of the cruelty
      and mocking of others He did not retaliate, but He forgave. Seeing the
      suffering of others, even in the midst of His own suffering, He offered
      comfort and compassion. He took our experience, our life, our humanity
      at its fullest and He transformed it and changed it. In so doing, He
      showed us that we too can be changed and transformed. He showed us what
      we can become with His help.

      In the Cross we see the instrument of the death of our Lord Jesus
      Christ. In the Cross we also see the instrument of His boundless love
      for us in that He took upon Himself the fullness of our life and
      experience so that in knowing us, we might also come to know Him. In the
      Cross we see shame and humiliation and torture transformed into
      forgiveness and compassion and love. We see defeat transformed into
      victory. We see death transformed into life. To us as men, the cross
      appears as a termination, as an end. But Jesus Christ has taken the
      cross and made it into a beginning, into a door from death to life, as
      the means by which we can return to the intimate union and communion
      with Himself that our first parents experienced in the garden of Eden.

      Jesus Christ, the God/man, took flesh and came into this world not just
      so that He might experience our life. Certainly, as God, He knew all
      about us and how we lived. He took on our life that by doing so He might
      change it, that He might transform it and join it with His life. Our
      life in this world is a march toward death. We are born and from the
      moment of our birth we fight off death. Our Lord Jesus Christ came and
      took on our life and embraced it even to His death on the cross. By
      embracing our life and our death, He changed its nature so that now our
      life is no longer limited and defined by death, but it has become a
      means toward acquiring life. The purpose of our life is no longer to
      fight off death for as long as we can, but rather the purpose of our
      life in this world is to enter into the Life of Christ and death is no
      longer the termination of our life, but rather the doorway into that
      Life in Christ and into the bliss of union and communion with Him. The
      cross is no longer for us an instrument of torture and shame and death,
      but it is become the instrument of love and compassion and the doorway
      to Life eternal.

      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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