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Homily for 10/16/11 - P18 - St Dionysius and the pearl of great price

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 13:44-54 St Dionysius was a Greek of noble birth and born to pagan parents in the city of Athens. Throughout his life St Dionysius sought for truth, he
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2011
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      Matt 13:44-54

      St Dionysius was a Greek of noble birth and born to pagan parents in the
      city of Athens. Throughout his life St Dionysius sought for truth, he
      investigated all the great philosophies of his time and became a scholar
      of them. In his pursuit of truth he left the city of Athens as a youth
      to study in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt which was at that time a
      center of philosophy. While there, St Dionysius experienced a day when
      the sun went dark at midday. The saint, even then in his ignorance,
      exclaimed that surely the world is coming to an end or that God Himself
      must be suffering.

      Having completed his studies St Dionysius returned to his home in
      Athens, where, as the highly educated son of one of the noblest
      families, he was given the task of governing the city. About this time
      the Holy Apostle Paul came to the city of Athens preaching the Gospel of
      the Resurrection of Christ. His hunger for truth unsatisfied by his
      study of philosophy, Dionysius invited St Paul to speak with him. The
      Apostle asked Dionysius what gods were worshipped in Athens and in reply
      Dionysius took Paul into the city and pointed out the various temples of
      Cronos, Aphrodite, Zeus, and so on. As they walked through the city,
      they came upon a temple dedicated to “the unknown god” When St Paul
      asked Dionysius who this unknown god might be, Dionysius replied “It is
      he among the gods, Who has not yet manifested Himself but Who shall come
      in his own time. He is the God who shall reign over heaven and earth,
      whose kingdom has no end.”

      When the Apostle heard this he began to tell Dionysius of our Lord Jesus
      Christ, the Word of God Who was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became
      Man. St Paul told how he had been nailed to the cross and died and how a
      great darkness had come over all the earth at that moment as the sun hid
      its face for three hours. St Paul also told him how Jesus Christ rose
      from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the
      Father. Hearing all this, St Dionysius recalled his studies in the city
      of Heliopolis when the sun was darkened and he recalled his own words
      that God Himself must be suffering. He realized the truth of his own
      words in the preaching of St Paul. He who had sought the truth all his
      life had now found it. St Dionysius, the philosopher had studied and
      sorted through all the wisdom of mankind as through a collection of the
      finest pearls and here he had found the one pearl of great price. His
      hunger and thirst for the Truth was finally satisfied, he had found that
      for which he had sought.

      St Dionysius from that moment on believed on Jesus Christ and having
      been baptized with all his house, he left his city, his home and his
      possessions all behind and followed Paul in all his travels that he
      might learn about the One True God.

      St Dionysius became the living embodiment of the parables that we heard
      today in the Gospel. Having found a treasure buried in a field, he went
      and sold all that he had that he might purchase that field. Having
      sorted through the marketplace of the pearls of human wisdom and
      philosophy, he found the one pearl of great price, the Truth of God
      Incarnate, Jesus Christ. This pearl of great price he purchased, giving
      the whole of his life.

      We today have this same treasure before us, but it is not buried in a
      field or hidden within a host of human philosophies. This treasure, the
      great treasure and pearl of great price: God Who came to us and God Who
      redeemed us with His own suffering and blood and God Who nourishes us
      with His very own precious and most holy Body and Blood and God Who
      defeated death and freed the captives and Who leads us to the gates of
      paradise and has opened for us the doors of heaven - this treasure is
      here before us in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are
      already the possessors of this great wealth. However, we are also too
      often like those who are accustomed to great wealth, we forget the great
      value of that which we have and so neglect the treasure which we have
      been given. We are used to the treasure house of prayer; we find the
      exquisite beauty of the divine services to be “ordinary” and everyday;
      we take for granted the abundant riches of the Orthodox Faith; even the
      Holy Mysteries seem to have become for us commonplace. We constantly
      must remind ourselves of the greatness of what we have. Before us is set
      a great banquet, and even the crumbs which fall from the table are of
      such great value that even a single crumb would sustain us. But to us it
      is just a crumb and we let it fall.

      We have become like the apostles when our Lord was approached by the
      Canannite woman. The apostles had become accustomed to the spiritual
      wealth that they enjoyed because of their Hebrew heritage and the
      teaching of Christ. Therefore when this woman came to Christ begging not
      to be admitted to the banquet, but rather to have only the crumbs that
      fall from the table, our Lord prolonged this encounter, emphasizing for
      the apostles just how great a treasure they had so that they might not
      take it for granted. Then to show the surpassing value of even the
      “crumbs” that had fallen from the table, by His power according to the
      faith of the woman, He healed the daughter of the woman, giving her the
      “crumbs” which she so earnestly desired.

      This is for us, to wake us up, to remind us how great a treasure we
      possess. Every time you pray even the simplest of prayers, recall the
      great privilege you have been granted to be able to call on God as your
      Father. Every time you come into this Holy Temple and participate in the
      Divine Services - remind yourself that you have been brought into the
      presence of God and that His house is your house. Every time you
      approach the Holy Mysteries, think how great and wonderful it is that
      you, who are dust and grass, have been admitted to touch and be touched
      by God Who is fire and yet behold you are not consumed, but like the
      bush that burned and was not consumed, you are covered with the dew of
      divine grace enabling you to touch God and by that touch to become
      filled with that fire that is His presence and His love.

      Recall the words that we sing at the end of the Divine Liturgy: “We have
      seen the True Light, we have received the Heavenly Spirit, we have found
      the True Faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity...” Pray these words
      with your whole being; with your whole mind, understanding the greatness
      of what you have received; with your whole heart, full of the love for
      God and gratitude for His abundant mercy; with your whole strength,
      giving everything that you have and are over to the pursuit of holiness.

      You have received the greatest treasure possible, you have been given
      the pearl of great price, God Himself has come to you and touched you -
      live in the reality of His presence and in the realization of His
      Kingdom. Do not take Him for granted, letting your faith lapse into
      ignorance or superstition, but rather keep the memory of His mercy to
      you fresh in your mind and heart and continue to pursue a greater and
      deeper knowledge of Him all the days of your life.

      --
      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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