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Homily for 9/12/10 - P16 - Using the riches of God

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 25:14-30 The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12, 2010
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      Matthew 25:14-30

      The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “We then, as workers
      together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God
      in vain. … in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, …
      as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all
      things.” (2Cor 6:1-10). Indeed the Apostles were poor, they had nothing
      and yet the Apostle Paul spoke of making many others rich and possessing
      all things. How can he say this, what is he talking about? The Apostle
      is reminding us that God has left to us in this world a great treasure;
      He has left us His Holy Church. The riches of the Church are her
      confession of faith, her Tradition, her righteous life and her prayers
      both public and private. These are riches that do not decay or vanish,
      but increase in the hearts of the faithful from year to year and day to
      day. We have been given this great wealth by God to use so that we might
      work out our salvation in this life.

      Keeping this great gift of God in mind, let us now recall the parable of
      our Lord Jesus Christ that we heard just now. Three servants received a
      great sum of money – a fortune – from their master who then left on a
      long journey. Two of the servants took that which they had been given
      and used the money to invest in trade and doubled their original
      investment. The third servant buried the treasure in the ground so that
      it might not be lost. When the master returned and took and accounting
      of his servants he was pleased with the two who had profitably used the
      money they had been given and rewarded them. The servant who had buried
      the money then brought out what he had been given intact and without
      loss, but because he did not use what he had been given in a profitable
      manner, he incurred the wrath of his master and was punished.

      The master, in this parable, of course represents Jesus Christ and we
      are His servants. He has entrusted us each with the great treasures
      contained in the Church and has ascended into heaven to prepare a place
      for us alongside Himself. But He has also promised that He will return
      to take us with Him. When He does return and asks for an accounting of
      how we used this great treasure that He had given you how will you
      respond? Have you used the treasure that God has put into your hands to
      your profit? Have buried it in the ground or worse yet neglected it?
      What have you done with these riches which have been entrusted to you?

      We have all heard tales of how a great work of art or a historical
      document or other valuable treasure is discovered at a yard sale or in
      stuffed somewhere in the basement or under the mattress and long ago
      forgotten. Sometimes we treat the treasure that God has given us in this
      way. We know the Gospel, we know the prayers and that we should pray, we
      come to Church when we can find the time – but we neglect all these
      things. We let the gifts of God fall into disuse through our own
      laziness or inattentiveness and soon that great treasure is buried under
      a pile of worldly cares and interests and is long forgotten. This is
      worse even than burying the treasure for we do not even take enough
      interest in it to protect it and preserve it. How will we answer God
      when He asks us what we have done with this fortune that He has given us
      and we don’t have an answer and we can’t even remember where we put it.

      There are other people who collect things. They know that what they have
      is valuable and so they go to great pains to put it in a proper display
      case and dust it off every so often. They admire it and look at it
      constantly, but, they never use what they have. Such a person is like
      the third servant who buried his treasure. He values what he has and so
      preserves it the best way that he can, but he never actually uses it and
      so it sits in useless safety. We sometimes treat God’s gift to us in the
      same way. We realize the great value of our Orthodox faith, and we go to
      great care to keep it safe – we put only the best and most tasteful
      icons on display or we might collect a whole library of Orthodox books
      and we might even build beautiful Churches. But we don’t pray before the
      icons daily and we never have time to read those books, not even the
      Scripture, and we are often absent from the Church that we have built.
      Sometimes there are those who come a step closer to actually using what
      God has given – they read the books and become quite knowledgeable about
      the faith and they know how all the services are supposed to be and
      insist that everything be done right and they know all the rules of
      behavior and make sure that they are followed to the letter – but none
      of this has any effect on the heart, the knowledge of belief and
      practice remains external and becomes an end in itself but does not sink
      into the heart and so produce repentance, humility, compassion, and love
      for God and neighbor. We protect and preserve the faith and even put on
      a show of following the external requirements of how to use it – but it
      all remains only a show, only a pretense and our hearts are never
      touched. How will we then answer our Lord when He asks us what we have
      done with this fortune that He has given us? Will we say to Him like the
      foolish servant – “Here is your treasure, see how I have preserved it
      intact and unsullied and I even know all about it. But no, I did not
      really use it because I wanted to keep it in pristine condition. Take
      now what is Yours, untouched, unsullied and unused – just like new.” How
      can God’s judgment fail to be different from that which He has already
      told us and because we failed to use what was given to us, we will not
      have a place with Him in eternity.

      God has given us this great treasure to use. We might not always be
      successful in the way that we use it. Sometimes we will fail, sometimes
      we will get it all twisted up, we just won’t be perfect. But as long as
      you strive to put this great treasure to use to change your own life, to
      affect and transform your own heart, it will begin to bear fruit – maybe
      a little, maybe a lot, it doesn’t matter as long as you are using the
      gift of God for the transformation of your soul. It is good to keep the
      icons and the books – but use them, pray and read daily. Put your whole
      self: your heart, your mind, your body into your prayers. Whatever you
      discover by reading the Scripture and spiritual books, find a way to put
      it into practice in your own life. Attend the services of the Church as
      often as possible, arriving on time and staying through the end, and do
      not just stand here watching, but pray, participate, sing and join in
      the prayer and worship of the whole Body of Christ which is the Church.
      This is the prayer that we offer together. Let the life of the Church
      become the foundation and order of your own life. Schedule your day
      around the times of your prayer (rather than try to fit prayer somewhere
      into your day). Let the Church’s calendar become your calendar so that
      today isn’t just marked as September 12th, but rather mark today first
      and foremost as the feast of St Alexander Nevsky. Keep the fasts and
      feasts of the Church in order that they might become the rhythm of your
      life – letting your heart beat to this new and divine cadence. Practice
      the virtues and commandments of God, look for opportunities to be
      charitable and hospitable and compassionate. Acknowledge your own sins
      and shortcomings and ask forgiveness – of God and of others (this
      requires that you learn to humble yourself). Be obedient, to God, to the
      Church, to your parents, to your spouse, to one another and so develop
      humility in every aspect of your life. Every day fulfill the great
      commandment to love God with all your heart, with all your mind with all
      your soul and with all your strength. Every day fulfill the second
      commandment to love your neighbor. Use the riches God has given to you
      in His Holy Church to transform yourself and make real in your life His
      image and His likeness.

      God is the master of the parable who has given to us, His servants, a
      great treasure. He expects us to use it to produce the fruit of a
      transformed life in ourselves. Let us then not neglect this great gift
      which has been given to us, nor let us preserve it untouched and unused
      for by this we will be excluded from God’s presence. Rather let us use
      the treasure that we have been given to produce in our own selves the
      profit and gain of a life that reflects and radiates the image and
      likeness of God, that we might hear from Him the blessing, “Well done
      thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

      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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