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Homily for 7/25/10 - P9 - The Ark of Salvation

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 14:22-34 After the crowd of 5000 had been fed and then sent home, Jesus sent his disciples across the sea of Galilee in a boat while He remained behind to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2010
      Matt 14:22-34

      After the crowd of 5000 had been fed and then sent home, Jesus sent his
      disciples across the sea of Galilee in a boat while He remained behind
      to pray. As the disciples were crossing the sea and storm came up and
      threatened to sink the boat. Just at that time, Jesus came to the
      disciples, walking across the sea. Peter, when he realized that it was
      Jesus, was so caught up in the moment that he asked to exit the boat and
      come to Jesus on the surface of the sea. Jesus told him to come but as
      soon as Peter lost sight of Jesus and saw the sea, he began to doubt and
      he began to sink and cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus came and took
      Peter by the hand, lifted him up and placed him in the boat with the
      others. Then Jesus Himself, also entered the boat and the storm calmed.

      This event reinforces the message from last week about the necessity of
      being in the Church. Archbishop Andrei of Novo Diveevo describes this
      scene with spiritual eyes: “A wonderful image of the Church of Christ is
      drawn for us here. The boat, as it were, represents the Church: its
      sides are the rules and canons of the Church; the disciples are all of
      us Christians; and the stormy sea is the sea of our life. And now too
      Christ has ascended a mountain, which means He is sitting at the right
      hand of the Father. He sees our Church boat and directs it. … And when
      they (the disciples) found themselves in danger, He walked to them on
      the water.” How clear is this picture of the Church as the ark of
      salvation; a ship sailing on the stormy seas of life protecting those
      within from the violence of the tempest by her sides which are the
      teaching and tradition of the Church, conveying all safely to their
      destination. In times of trouble, our Lord, looking down upon us from
      heaven, sees our need and comes to us walking upon the surface of the
      water. Last week we heard how our Lord places us in the Church, in the
      care of the Apostles so that we might draw all of our nourishment from
      their hands as they receive it from Him. This week we see how our Lord
      places us in the Church to protect us from the tempest of this life and
      the raging attacks of the evil one.

      There is more, however, for we have yet to speak of Peter and his coming
      to Christ on the water. The Gospel says that the disciples entered into
      the boat to go to the other side, not of their own will but rather that
      they “were constrained” by Jesus to do so. This means that they were not
      acting according to their own will but rather that they were acting in
      obedience to Christ. Again we have repeated for us the lesson that when
      we come to the Christ we surrender our own desires and ideas and conform
      our will to His own. Now when the disciples saw Jesus come to them
      walking on the water, they were at first afraid but Jesus calmed them
      with His word. Peter was so excited that he called out to Christ saying,
      “Lord, if it is you, then let me come to you on the water.” See here
      that Jesus did not call Peter, but Peter himself came up with this idea.
      Obedience changed into boldness and Peter filled with a surge of faith
      and zeal took a bold step. But then something happened and a wave came
      and hid Jesus from Peter’s sight and Peter found himself alone. His
      foolishness overcame him and he realized that he had over reached
      himself. His faith faltered and his zeal changed to fear and he began to
      sink. But still he cried out to the only one who could save him, saying,
      “Lord help me!” And immediately Jesus was there and took Peter by the hand.

      See here the necessity of obedience, the necessity of denying the self,
      of following Christ in all things rather than our own ideas. Out of
      obedience the disciples entered the boat and crossed the sea, and they
      were protected even from the fierce effects of the storm. But when
      Peter’s desire reasserted itself, even with something that seemed good –
      an act of faith, imitating his Lord and Master – then he found himself
      in danger. Even when we are foolish, even when we forget to obey, even
      when we allow our own zeal to override everything else, even then, Jesus
      is still there to save us, to pick us up, to lift us out of the danger
      in which we find ourselves and to preserve us. But Jesus did not pick
      Peter up and set him again on his feet to walk with Him on the surface
      of the water, but rather Jesus picked Peter up and placed him in the
      boat with the others. Jesus placed Peter back into the ark of salvation.
      We are not saved alone, but we are saved in the company of the Church.
      We cannot walk through this life on our own strength or even on a surge
      of faith in Christ – we are instead placed by Christ into the ark of
      salvation, into the Church. Within the Church we are protected by the
      stiff planks of the sides and keel which are the canons and doctrines
      and traditions of the Church. The ark is guided by the sure hand of the
      Apostles who are its officers and crew, chosen and set apart by Christ.
      The sails are filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit, pushing us
      along to our destination. And the Captain of the ship who guards us and
      comforts us and watches over us is our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.

      With his clear spiritual sight, Archbishop Andrei sums it all up for us:
      “What a profound lesson is hidden for us here: in Christian living there
      should be evenness, there should be quiet. And for this to be so, we
      must never step over the side of the Church boat. We must keep the
      statutes of the Church, we must live the life of the Church. And then,
      even if we find ourselves amid the stormy sea of life, we will be able
      to cry out, “Lord save me.” And He, the Merciful One will stretch out
      His saving hand to us too, as He did to Peter, and we will find
      ourselves in the boat of the Church (the ark of salvation), and a great
      calm will come.”

      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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