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Homily for 12/12/10 - P29 - The reason for the season

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  • Fr David Moser
    1 Tim 1:15-17 & Luke 13:10-17 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12 12:11 PM
      1 Tim 1:15-17 & Luke 13:10-17

      “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ
      Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1Tim 1:15)

      In these few words, the whole purpose of the incarnation is summarized
      for us by the Holy Apostle Paul. As we look forward to the feast of the
      incarnation and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is good to have
      this reminder of why it all happened. The “reason for the season”, as
      they say, is not simply “peace on earth”, giving presents to one
      another, and all the warm family and friendly togetherness (although
      these things are all good); the “reason for the season” is to remember
      that “God became man and dwelt among us” “to save sinners of whom I am

      When God created the universe and all that is in it, He saw that
      everything was good. He created man in order to be the pinnacle of all
      creation, the perfect embodiment of all that exists in the universe and
      the ruler over it. Through man, God would commune with His creation and
      through man all of creation would commune with God. For this high
      calling – to be the link between creator and created – man was first
      created. However, as we know, man strayed from that calling by his own
      sin. Rather than ruling over all creation, man was made subject to
      creation – vulnerable to all the hardships and dangers within it. This
      change in place did not negate the high calling and purpose for which he
      was created, but it did result in many insurmountable barriers to the
      fulfillment of that purpose. In order to rescue man from this
      predicament in which he put himself, God has come to raise up again as
      many as will hear His voice and follow Him. And so, God, the creator,
      has become man in order to restore man, the creature, to his original
      place in the order of creation. The God/man Jesus Christ has come to
      save us, that is to restore to us our life of union and communion with
      God that was lost by our sin.

      In the Gospel today, we heard an account of the healing of a woman who
      had been disabled, that is bent over and unable to stand erect, for 18
      years. This healing illustrates for us the salvation that God has come
      to give to us. Just as this woman suffered and was crippled by a twisted
      and bent body, so also we are all crippled by a twisted and bent soul.
      The burden of our sins has weighed us down and though we may desire to
      reach up to God, it is not possible because our soul is bent so
      severely. This woman had no ability to straighten herself or even to
      look up at another person, but Jesus seeing her condition came to her
      and spoke to her, raised her up by his word and blessed her with the
      laying on of His hands. He is the good shepherd who seeks out the lost
      sheep and when He sees one of His lambs caught in the trap of his sins,
      half dead and injured by the thorns of sin, He does not wait for the
      lamb to cry out for help, but makes the first move to come and free His
      lamb. In this case, He spoke to the woman first, saying to her “Woman!”
      He did not say “Cripple” or “Monster” or “Sinner”, but rather “Woman”.
      With these words He reminds her that she is not merely some animal or
      some useless cast off, but she is a unique creation – a creation in the
      image of God. She is called not to look constantly at the dirt and dust
      of the world, but to look up to the heavens to search out the face of
      God. She is called not to be an outcast but rather to live in union and
      communion with God. “By this word alone, the Lord restored her lost
      dignity. He then loosed her from her infirmity by his word and lastly He
      placed His most pure hands on her, to perfect [her].” He gives to her
      “first: a compassionate look; second: a word of power; and third: a
      loving hand.” (St Nicholai of Ochrid)

      This is the same thing that our Lord offers to us. He does not come in
      wrath to punish us, but He comes as a loving and compassionate shepherd
      to rescue us from our crippled state. He first speaks to us, reminding
      us of the purpose for which we were created, restoring to us the dignity
      that we had cast aside in our sin and which was then stripped from us by
      the demonic tormentors. Jesus speaks to us calling us “Man” and “Woman”
      reminding us that we are not animals, we are not driven by instinct and
      passion, we are created with a high purpose and calling, that we do not
      look down at the earth but rather up towards heaven. In this way He
      restores to us our lost dignity – as a prince who had been captured,
      beaten down and enslaved by enemies is suddenly ennobled again by the
      memory of his birth and the reminder of what he was born to be.

      Having reminded us of our calling and purpose, our Lord then frees us
      from the crippling hold of sin on us. He lifts the burden of our sins
      which we carry and heals the damage inflicted by our sins. When we sin,
      it is not just that we disobey a law or break a rule; each time that we
      sin we inflict upon our soul a new and fresh wound and we pick up a
      stone which is then added to the load that we carry. This burden of
      stones weighs us down and holds us back from ascending towards heaven.
      Each injury that is inflicted weakens us and impairs us a little more so
      that our soul is constantly sapped of its strength. But simply by His
      healing word, Jesus removes this burden from us and heals our wounds
      making it possible to straighten up and to strive again towards that
      purpose to live in union and communion with Him.

      But it is not enough to simply know of our calling and to strive towards
      it. No man, by his own power, can ascend into heaven and stand before
      the throne of God. We need help and so our Lord gives us what we need.
      He lays His hands upon us and fills us with His grace. It is this grace
      of God working in us that lifts us up from this world and which
      transforms us into the image and likeness of God. The grace of God makes
      up that which is lacking in us and it is by this grace, this gift of
      God, that we are then able to pursue our calling and purpose. By using
      the grace that God has given us and by joining our labors to that grace,
      we can be transformed, we can be changed, we can become not only new,
      but perfect creatures rising to stand before God and to bask in the
      light and warmth of His presence. With the help of God’s grace, not only
      can we look up into heaven seeking the face of God but we can ourselves
      rise up to heaven and stand before Him living in union and communion
      with Him. This is our calling and our purpose; this is the reason for
      which we were created.

      The “reason for the season” – that is the reason that Christ Jesus came
      into the world – is just this, to save all of us who suffer under the
      burden of sin. He restores to us the dignity of our calling. He heals us
      with His word and delivers us from the burden of our sins and the
      injuries which they have inflicted upon our souls. He touches us with
      his hands and imbues us with His grace by which we are perfected and
      brought into union and communion with Him. This is the purpose of the
      incarnation, the coming of the God/man Jesus Christ. God has come and
      dwells among us so that we might also live with Him. “Jesus Christ came
      into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief:” this is the true
      “reason for the season.”

      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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