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Homily for 5/15/11 - Pa3 - Compassion

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  • Fr David Moser
    John 5:1-15 Acts 9:32-42 The Myrrhbearing women came to the tomb of Christ out of compassion. Expecting to find a dead body, their compassion was tinged with
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2011
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      John 5:1-15
      Acts 9:32-42

      The Myrrhbearing women came to the tomb of Christ out of compassion.
      Expecting to find a dead body, their compassion was tinged with sorrow.
      But upon arriving at the tomb, the sorrow was turned to joy and their
      weeping was turned to dancing for they received the Good News that
      Christ is Risen! Their joy filled compassion then turned towards their
      fellow mourners and they ran to tell the apostles that Christ is Risen
      so that their sorrow might also be turned to joy. The compassion of the
      myrrhbearing women was the driving force for them to share the Gospel
      with others. The apostles, when they heard this news at first did not
      believe what the women had told them, but later upon seeing Christ for
      themselves and like Thomas, touching the print of the nails in His hands
      and the wound of the spear in His side they too believed and were filled
      with joy. Then as they looked about themselves they saw the world still
      sunk in the captivity and suffering of sin and compassion was stirred
      within their hearts to go and to spread the Gospel that this suffering
      and captivity might be banished and just as their own sorrow had been
      transformed into joy, so also the whole world might have this same
      opportunity.

      In the Gospel today we read one of the many times that our Lord showed
      compassion upon those who suffered, bringing healing both physical and
      spiritual to those who were sick of body and soul. Coming to Jerusalem,
      our Lord visited the pool of Bethsaida at one of the gates to the city.
      This pool was a place were the hopelessly sick and suffering of the land
      gathered for on occasion an angel would come and stir the water and then
      the one who entered the water first at this moment was healed of his
      malady. The water itself had no medicinal properties, there was no
      combination of minerals and salts that were beneficial to the body,
      rather it was the grace of God, for these healings did not take place
      continuously, but only when the angel came, bringing this grace and
      stirring the water. This angelic visit had no real schedule and
      therefore people who were ill and who had no other hope came and waited
      for the stirring of the water, waiting for their chance to be healed.
      But in the meantime, the 5 porches surrounding the pool were filled with
      the sick, the suffering, the dying. This was a storehouse of human
      suffering. One did not come here for a pleasant visit or on an idle
      whim. Only those who were ill and those who cared for them came to this
      place. But to this place came our Lord - He was not ill, nor was He
      engaged in caring for any particular person - out of compassion for
      those who were suffering, out of love for all mankind, He came. And
      coming to this place, He reached out His hand and by His own grace, the
      same that stirred the water, He healed one who had waited for 47 years
      but had not been able to come to the water. Since he could not come to
      God, God came to Him. This is a parable for us. We who are sick and
      suffering with sin desire to come to God but are prevented from the very
      crippling illness of the soul for which we seek help - and so God comes
      to us, bringing us His grace, His comfort and His healing. All this is
      born of compassion.

      The Apostles too were moved by compassion, just as they had seen their
      Lord. In this Paschal season, we read from the book of the Acts of the
      Apostles. In this book we see the compassion of the Apostles in action.
      Today we heard how Peter came to the city of Lydda and there healed a
      man who had been lame for 8 years and then how he, following the example
      of Christ, was moved by the suffering and mourning of the family and
      friends of a prominent and compassionate believer named Tabitha (or by
      interpretation, Dorcas) who had died, came to her bedside, sent everyone
      out of the room and called her back to life (just as he had seen Jesus
      do with the daughter of the Jarius). Again we find the Apostles, out of
      compassion, seeking out those who were in suffering or who sorrowed and
      by the grace of God allieviating that suffering. This same compassion is
      what drove the Apostles to the ends of the known world and beyond to
      preach the Gospel of the Incarnation, the life, the death and
      Resurrection of the God/Man Jesus Christ.

      This same compassion we must cultivate in our own soul. First is
      compassion for those who suffer in this world. Our Lord instructed us to
      feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned,
      comfort the sorrowful. Why do we do these things? Not only because it is
      “good” or “nice” or “polite” or even “humane” rather we do these things
      because this is how compassion develops in us. Do not avoid suffering
      and sorrow in others, but rather seek it out and weep with them bearing
      their burdens. When we are exposed to the suffering of others, it
      touches our heart and develops within us the seeds of compassion. But
      this compassion must not be merely human or worldly compassion. If this
      seed is watered by our own self love, then it bears no eternal fruit,
      but turns instead into pride, impatience, irritation, judgement of
      others, self-regard, depression, helplessness and despair. We must be
      careful to water this seed of compassion instead with the love of God
      for then it becomes a powerful means by which God Himself bestows His
      grace for the healing of the sick, for the transformation of sorrow into
      joy, for boundless hope and for eternal life. Therefore all that you do
      out of compassion must be wrapped in prayer and done for the glory of
      God. Give no thought to your own benefit, but rather being moved by
      suffering and sorrow of others, pour yourself out in prayer and in
      service to God. Take as your example the unmercenary healers who brought
      care to the sick and dying and accepted no payment, only the praise of
      God. They were full of compassion not only for the bodily sufferings of
      men, but for the suffering of the soul. Through their selfless actions
      and prayers God grants miraculous healing and relief from pain and sorrow.

      Compassion leads us also to those who suffer not only in body but also
      in soul. This sense of compassion, developed in us by the love of God,
      also allows us to see the spiritual suffering of those who are without
      Christ. We can see and sense the captivity of the world to sin, death
      and the devil. We long for their release, we are moved to pray for them,
      to help them, to bring them along with us into the Kingdom of God. It is
      this practice of intercessory prayer that is the primary means by which
      compassion for the spiritual suffering of others is developed in us.
      Monastics, even solitary anchorites who have not seen another person for
      years, constantly pray for the world. This type of prayer develops in
      them a compassion and sensitivity for the spiritual sufferings of others
      that is truly of divine origin. If we also wish to have this same
      compassion, we too must follow their example of prayer for the world.
      Begin with those you know, with your family, your friends your
      neighbors. Pray for those who ask for your prayer, and then pray for
      those who you see in obvious need. As you do this, compassion for the
      spiritual sufferings of others will grow within your heart. Pray for
      those who God brings to your mind and heart for this prayer and the
      compassion that grows from it are the basis of missionary work.

      This is the same compassion that drove the saints in this life to pray
      for others and that continues to enable them to hear our prayers and to
      reach out and help us on the path of salvation. It is this Godly
      compassion in the saints that brings them to pray for us when we call
      out to them; it is this Godly compassion that moves them to intervene
      for us in our trials and difficulties, providing help in getting through
      this life. The saints motivated by compassion reach out and touch us by
      the love of God and bring to us the same grace that our Lord brought to
      the pool of Bethesda. This is the grace of God which seeks out and saves
      the lost, which comes to the sick and brings them health, which frees
      the captive, which comforts the sorrowing. This is the grace of God
      which turns our mourning into joy. This grace is brought to us by God
      and His saints moved by compassion, for we are weak and unable to come
      Him. My brothers and sisters, we need each other, for we express the
      compassion and love of Christ to one another and to the world. Let us
      then embrace one another joyously, as we sing in the Paschal stichera
      for in doing so we become His love to those around us and to the whole
      world.

      --
      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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