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homily for 7/10/11 - P4 - the fruit of holiness

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  • Fr David Moser
    Rom 6:18-23 & Gal 5:22-6:2 “…Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2011
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      Rom 6:18-23 & Gal 5:22-6:2

      “…Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your
      fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom 6:22) Here we
      see the purpose of the Christian life – to bear the fruit of holiness
      which in turn brings everlasting life. In His parables our Lord many
      times uses this image – that of plants that grow and bear fruit – to
      describe how we ought to live and how it is that we follow Him. He spoke
      of the seed, that is the Word of God, which is planted in the good soil,
      that is the heart of the soul which is ready to receive Him, and how
      this seed grows resisting the temptations and trials of the evil one and
      the pressures and distractions of the world and matures and bears fruit.
      Here the Apostle takes on this same image of “bearing fruit” to describe
      how it is that we live and grow in Christ. We are freed from sin and
      therefore no longer bear the fruit of sin in our lives – instead we are
      become the servants of righteousness, that is the servants of God, and
      we bear in our lives the fruits of holiness. In the second Epistle today
      (Gal 5:22-6:2) the Apostle again speaks of the fruit that come as the
      result of living the life of Christ. These fruits of the Holy Spirit, as
      he calls them, are “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
      faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control”.

      He calls these things “fruits” because, like the fruit of the vine or of
      a tree, they are the natural product of a life drawn from its proper
      essence. In this sense we would not expect to find an apple tree that
      produced tomatoes or an orange growing on a cornstalk. In the same way,
      in order to produce the fruit of holiness, we must be filled with
      holiness ourselves. In order for this to be the case, God Himself has
      descended upon us and lives within us. Inasmuch as we live our lives
      united to Him, that is inasmuch as we take His life as our own life,
      then we are able to bear in our lives the fruits of that union, the
      fruits of the Holy Spirit.

      In addition to the necessity of having the “nature” of holiness, that is
      being filled with the Holy Spirit and being united with Christ, the
      reason that these things are “fruits” is that they are not produced
      instantly, but grow and develop over time and as a result of our own
      labor. When a plant produces its fruit, it puts in its own energy and
      life force into that fruit. If the plant is weak, then the fruit is
      sparse or even completely lacking. If the energies of the plant are
      misdirected then the fruit does not develop and remains unripe or
      lacking altogether. In order to produce fruit, the plant must invest its
      own life force into the production of the fruit and direct those
      energies in the proper manner. If we wish to produce the fruit of
      holiness in our lives, then we must also invest our own time and energy
      and labor in the proper manner and direction, otherwise the fruit will
      never develop in us.

      How then do we act to develop this fruit in ourselves. Leaving behind
      for a moment the image of the plant which bears fruit, let us take a
      different image – the tuning of a musical instrument. Consider how an
      instrument is tuned (and in this case let us consider tuning a guitar,
      something that is familiar to most people). First an ideal is set forth
      – that is the note to which we wish to adjust the guitar string to
      conform. Then the string itself is plucked along with the ideal note.
      Listening to the result of having these two sounds together – the ideal
      note and the note produced by plucking the string – we listen to the
      result. The further away the string is from that note, the more easily
      we detect whether it is sharp or flat and how it is we have to adjust
      the tension of the string to conform to the ideal note. As we get
      closer, we hear that the two notes are similar, but that there is some
      dissonance in the notes as the harmonics do not match. Even when they
      are very close still there is some underlying dissonance which grates on
      the ear as the tones do note quite match and so “fight with” one
      another. At the moment that the guitar string has conformed completely
      to its ideal we can hear that the tension has been resolved and that
      rather than fight with one another, the two tones now reinforce one
      another for they have become identical. In order to produce the fruit of
      holiness in our own lives, we have to “tune ourselves” so that our lives
      begin to sing in perfect unison with the Holy Spirit living in us.

      We “tune ourselves” by beginning to adjust our behavior and actions so
      that they approximate the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. We begin
      to imitate in our own lives those things which are the fruit of the Holy
      Spirit. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and the rest become the model
      characteristics that we strive to bring about in our lives. Of course,
      on our own we are unable to produce the genuine fruit, but by attuning
      ourselves we begin to draw upon the grace of the Holy Spirit so that
      little by little we begin living in union with Him. As we draw closer to
      the life of the Holy Spirit, we are able to approximate His fruit in our
      lives but it is not until we are fully attuned to Him, that is when we
      live fully in true unison with Him that our lives are joined to His
      seamlessly and we begin to bear in ourselves the true fruits of
      righteousness. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
      faithfulness, gentleness and self control are no longer our own poor
      “imitations” of the fruit of the spirit but they arise naturally as a
      result of our nature living in union and communion with the Holy Spirit.

      This is not some instant or magical transformation that suddenly appears
      in our lives, but the fruit of holiness are the result of a life lived
      in union and communion with God, Who is the source of holiness. These
      fruits are the work of our whole life, not just of a day or a month or
      even a few years. From the moment we are united with Christ in baptism,
      we have the potential to bear this fruit in our lives by living in
      unison with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we stray from
      the path of salvation and we become “out of tune”. But if we repent, if
      we return to the path of living in obedience to the life of following
      Christ, then we can be “re-tuned” and regain in our lives that
      harmonious unison with the Holy Spirit which produces that fruit in us.

      We are no longer the slaves of sin, producing in our lives the fruit of
      wickedness, but we have become the servants of righteousness, living in
      unison with the Holy Spirit, and producing in our lives the fruit of
      holiness. In this way we are united to Christ in eternity and gain that
      everlasting life of union and communion with Him.

      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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