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Homily for 11/27/11 - P25 - healing the sick soul

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  • Fr David Moser
    Luke 8:41-56 The parable of the good Samaritan is given to us as the answer to a question. One of the scribes asked Jesus, “What must I do to gain eternal
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2011
      Luke 8:41-56

      The parable of the good Samaritan is given to us as the answer to a
      question. One of the scribes asked Jesus, “What must I do to gain
      eternal life” and then when Jesus told him to keep the commandments to
      love God and love his neighbor, the scribe, seeking to justify himself
      (for he was stricken by his conscience that he had done neither of these
      fully) asked, “Who is my neighbor?” In response to this question, our
      Lord gave us this parable to demonstrate what it is that truly defines a
      neighbor and more than that what it is that truly unites people to one

      Before we think about what it is that unites us, let us consider what it
      is that divides us. Just as physician must learn about the disease
      process before he can learn how to cure the disease, so before we
      attempt to restore the unity with God and one another, it would be
      helpful to find out what it is that separates us. When God created the
      world and all that is in it - including mankind - all things were in
      complete harmony with one another. Even today we see the remnants of
      that original harmony. Astronomy and physics reveal the intricate dance
      of the smallest and largest particles of the universe and how even the
      smallest and furthest subatomic particle is connected to the largest and
      nearest star. All things that have mass also exert a gravitational pull
      and even the weakest gravitation field is considered in the balance of
      the entire universe. Closer to home, when we study ecology, we are
      looking at the inter-relationships of the vast spectrum of life and how
      each microbe and each cell has a role to play in maintaining the
      viability of life on this planet. Biologists study the intricate inner
      workings of living things - how within the body there is a wonderful
      diversity of cells and structures and yet each is knit together in a
      single body. But within these wonderful and beautiful examples of unity
      there are forces which intrude and create dissonance and which bring
      destruction and death. These forces break apart the unity and sew the
      seeds of discord and death. This destructive force comes when something
      pushes the harmony of creation out of balance by emphasizing its own
      strength and type at the expense of the diversity around it. In the
      body, when there is disease, that disease is the result of the action of
      a bacteria or virus that attacks the cells of the body destroying them
      that the disease might itself take root and grow. In modern medicine,
      one of the most prevalent but least controlled processes of this sort is
      cancer. The cancerous cells grow rapidly and aggressively pushing other
      cells out of the way and seeking to make all the cells cancerous. In
      ecology, the destructive force is often exemplified by the effects of
      man on nature - destroying the balance of nature in order to meet his
      own needs with no regard for the place and needs of other creatures in
      the ecological balance. Even in the far reaches of the universe there
      are disruptive forces that reach out and consume everything around them
      such as black holes from which not even light can escape.

      All this destruction comes about because one element in the natural
      balance sets itself above everything else and puts its own needs and
      wants and its own existence above everything else. In the soul, this
      same disruption can be seen and it is called sin. It is sin that
      separates us from God and from one another. It is sin that destroys the
      unity and perfect spiritual balance that existed in Paradise before the
      fall. The root of all sin is pride, that is the inflated self regard
      with which a man considers himself more important than anything else in
      the universe, including God. When a person places themselves at the
      center of all things rather than God, then the whole balance of the soul
      is damaged. First this pride breaks the unity that we have with God and
      then it breaks the unity that we have with one another. All of the sins
      are born out of this original sin of pride. It is therefore sin that
      destroys the harmony of creation, it breaks the unity of man with God
      and distorts the unity of man with his fellow man. Sin is the cause of
      the spiritual disease and disorder of the soul. In order to restore the
      soul to health, in order to restore the unity of God and man and the
      unity of mankind, we must find a way to overcome sin and its effects.

      In the parable of the Good Samaritan we see first a man robbed, beaten
      and left for dead. Three men pass - the first two are related to the
      beaten man by blood - being Jews. St Nikolai of Ochrid speaks of these
      two Jews, a priest and a Levite, as representing the law and the
      prophets. Indeed the law cannot heal it only diagnoses the illness. Nor
      do the prophets heal, they can only warn us away from a dangerous path.
      And then the Samaritan comes along. He is not related by birth, not in
      the same social class, not part of the same tribe, and yet it is the
      Samaritan who shows himself to be the neighbor, to be the one bound
      closely to the injured one for he shows something not found in the law
      and the prophets, something more powerful, that can heal and restore the
      soul. That power manifested by the Samaritan is compassion. The
      beginning of healing sin is compassion. Compassion is born out of love -
      love of God and love of others and so we end up back at the beginning of
      the Gospel. What must one do to gain eternal life, in other words what
      must one do to restore the unity of himself with God? He must first love
      God and second that love of God must be expressed by the love of others.

      The Holy Apostle Paul expresses similar words of how the healing love
      that restores the unity of God and man is expressed. “Humility,
      gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, working to
      keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:2&3) Not only
      is that healing and unifying love expressed in compassion, but it also
      expressed in these qualities of humility, gentleness, patience – which
      are also among the fruits of the Holy Spirit working in us. Just as
      pride is the father of all sins – so humility is the mother of all
      virtue. Wherever you find pride in your life, counter it with humility.
      When you find that you build yourself up, then it is the time and place
      to bow yourself down. The natural inclination of the fallen man is to
      set himself above all others, to be proud and so in order to counteract
      this pride, we must choose to set aside our pride and we must choose,
      with the grace of God, to act in a humble manner. Humility sets others
      before self, seeing others as more important than oneself; humility sets
      aside personal credit giving glory and honor only to God; humility does
      not insist on its own way and its own self, but instead it freely gives
      of itself for the benefit and welfare of others.

      If the core of this disease is sin, then it is obvious that sin itself
      needs to be removed. When we approach God and seek to be united with
      Him, we confess our sins, we repent of them, we turn our back on them.
      And in return we receive from God forgiveness. Forgiveness wipes away
      sin, it removes sin’s power. In order to eliminate the root cause of
      sin, we must counteract it with repentance. By repentance, we seek
      forgiveness from God for we know that we have sinned against Him, and He
      freely grants us His forgiveness. However it is not against God alone
      that we sin - but out of our pride and self importance we sin against
      each other as well. And so once we have repented of our sins before God
      and asked His repentance so also we must then turn to one another and
      ask forgiveness. If we would overcome strife and division and disharmony
      between ourselves – even within the confines of the Church, then we must
      first seek forgiveness from and in turn forgive one another. Our Lord
      said to His disciples, “freely you have received, freely give” and this
      applies to forgiveness. God has freely granted to us forgiveness – now
      we too must forgive one another. Forgiveness is a choice, it is an act
      of the will. You don’t have to wait until you “feel” forgiveness in
      order to make the choice to forgive. You can forgive right away, at the
      very moment of the insult. You can offer forgiveness even before the
      other person has a chance to repent – in fact you can forgive them even
      if they never repent. Forgiveness is in your power, you choose to
      forgive or not to forgive. God has forgiven you, even before you know of
      your own sins – in the same way, you can forgive others. Only by
      forgiveness is sin overcome. Only by forgiveness is the strife and
      separation that plague us in this world overcome. Only by forgiveness
      can we ever hope to restore our communion with God and with one another.

      Sin separates us from God – but forgiveness destroys sin. The
      consequences of sin are then overcome by humility, compassion,
      gentleness, patience, meekness, and most importantly by love of God and
      love of others. We see around us a world torn apart by sin, a world
      ravaged by pride and revenge and selfishness. We even see our Church
      attacked by these same destructive forces. Only by forgiveness can this
      sin be overcome and done away with. Only by love , humility and
      compassion can the ravages of this sin be healed. Let us then love one
      another, let us have compassion on one another, let us forgive one
      another - for by these things the separation of sin is overcome and our
      unity with God and one another is restored.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
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