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Homily for 10/2/11 - AfterCross - What will give for our soul

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  • Fr David Moser
    Gal 2:16-20 Mark 8:34-9:1 “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2011
      Gal 2:16-20
      Mark 8:34-9:1

      “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose
      his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

      When we hear this question from the Gospel, it is easy to quickly think
      that we would indeed choose Christ and that there is nothing in our life
      that is more important to us. Jesus had just reminded his disciples, and
      us, that if we wish to come after Himself, that we must deny ourselves,
      take up our cross and follow Him. Then He challenges us with these
      questions. What is it that we are trying to bring along from ourselves
      as we seek to follow Him. When we deny ourselves, what exceptions do we
      allow? or when we ascend the cross and die to the world, what little
      things do we allow to remain alive within our hearts; when we follow
      Christ what baggage do we drag along? What is it that is more valuable
      than the salvation of our soul?

      It is easy to think, “of course I will deny myself – except of course, I
      have to keep some cash in reserve, just in case” or “I need to make sure
      I maintain my job/health” It’s easy to let some exceptions creep in when
      we follow Christ, “I will follow Christ, but I’ll take a break for my
      job/a movie/this football game” in this way, we allow something to sneak
      in and become more valuable than pursuing the path of salvation –
      something that we are willing to keep in exchange for our soul.

      Jesus shows us the path of salvation and then asks us to set aside
      everything else to follow that path. He asks us to choose Him
      unconditionally over anything else. And in order to help us make this
      choice, He puts it in terms of our own self interest – of what value to
      you is saving your own soul. So when we are faced with these
      distractions, we have to ask ourselves, “Which is more important, my own
      soul, or this other thing?” Is it better to have this pleasure, this
      security, this thing and neglect my salvation? Or is it better to do
      what is necessary to follow Christ?

      If we choose to follow Christ, then, of necessity we ascend the cross
      with Him and die not only to the world, but to ourselves as well. To
      choose to follow Christ is to choose Him above all else. How then does
      this work out in our daily lives, what does it mean to “die” to ourselves?

      “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am
      crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
      in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of
      the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

      Here is the secret, we no longer live our lives, driven by our own
      desires, our own priorities, our own values, our own ideas, but instead
      we live the life of Christ which is determined by His desires, His
      values, His priorities, His ideas. Once we make this choice then we are
      given that new life in Christ by baptism, and we are given the grace of
      that new life. But our old life constantly seeks to reassert itself, it
      doesn’t die easily. This is the reason that we need to deny ourselves,
      because it is the self that keeps rising up to try and pull us away from
      the life of Christ and follow instead the old life.

      What then does it mean live the life of Christ? How do we know what are
      His desires, His values, His priorities and His ideas? Again in the
      epistle we are given the answer to that question for the apostle brings
      to mind the law. He says that we are no longer under the law and that
      through the law we have died to sin that we might instead live with the
      life of Christ. Note that although we are dead to the law, the law does
      not become irrelevant. Rather the law was given to us to shape and mold
      us in to the image of God from the outside. It is imposed upon us as a
      form restricting us here and allowing us to move there so that if we
      follow the contours prescribed by the law, we will develop in our lives
      an external resemblance to Christ. What remains is only that the
      external image might be filled with life and become animated so that it
      is no longer something imposed from the outside by the law, but rather
      the image created by the law becomes a reflection of the nature and
      essence of the internal being. We are freed from the confines of the law
      which is imposed upon us from the outside because the life we now live
      allows that very image to flow from the inside. The law describes for us
      the life of Christ and thus it informs us about the desires of Christ,
      the values of Christ, the priorities of Christ, the ideas of Christ. It
      tells us how to live the life of Christ.

      In the law we are commanded to love God with all our heart and soul and
      mind, but when we live the life of Christ, we no longer love God because
      we are commanded to do so, but rather because it is our nature. We are
      commanded to love our neighbor as ourself, but when we live the life of
      Christ, we no longer love our neighbor because we are commanded to do
      so, but because it is our nature. We are commanded to refrain from
      lying, from envy, from stealing, but when we live the life of Christ,
      truth, contentment, and honesty are part of our nature. We no longer
      need to be constrained by the law, because we live the life of the One
      Who is the fulfillment of the law.

      As a child we lived under our parent’s law. They enforced their ideas,
      their desires, their values upon us by discipline and reward. But when
      we became adults, we no longer lived under our parents rule, but we
      retained the shape of those desires, values and ideas that they
      instilled in us as children. So it is with Christ. The law instilled in
      us a particular shape and form – that of Christ. But now that Christ
      lives in us, we no longer need the external constraint of the law for it
      is now a part of our inner being and essence – it is our own nature to
      live according to the law. That shape and form imposed upon us by the
      law from the outside has become, by the grace of God, our nature,
      flowing out from our inner being. This is what it means to live the life
      of Christ.

      What shall we give then in exchange for our soul? The answer, of course,
      is that we give everything, we give our entire life, our hopes, our
      desires, our values, our ideas. We give up everything, even our very
      life, into the hands of Christ, and in return He gives us Himself – His
      own life that we live as our own. It is this life that enlivens the
      soul, that preserves it, that fills the soul with grace so that we
      thrive and grow and reach our destiny. The reason that we were created
      with such a soul is to enable us to join our lives to the life of Christ
      and to live in union and communion with Him. When we do this, when we
      give up our own life in exchange for the life of Christ, then the soul
      is freed to ascend into the presence of God and is freed to be joined to
      the life of Christ. This is our destiny – this is the purpose for which
      we were created. To live the life of Christ, to live in union and
      communion with Him, to share with Him all that He is.

      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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