Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Homily for 1/1/12 - b4nat - The Simple Life

Expand Messages
  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 1:1-25 Every year on the Sunday before Nativity, we read this litany of the ancestor’s of Christ, those who were the physical forebears of Christ. We
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2012
      Matthew 1:1-25

      Every year on the Sunday before Nativity, we read this litany of the
      ancestor’s of Christ, those who were the physical forebears of Christ.
      We hear how Abraham begat Isaac, who in turn begat Joseph, who begat
      Judah and his brothers and so on until we reach the Righteous Joseph,
      the husband of the Virgin Mary. And then the Gospel turns its attention
      to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. In doing so it
      says, “The birth of Christ was after this manner”. This simple
      transition draws our attention to many things, including the fact that
      our Lord’s generation and birth was not the same as all those just
      mentioned beforehand. All of the ancestor’s just listed were born
      according to the fallen nature, according to the curse of Adam and Eve,
      in the midst of toil and in pain, the same as the animals. But the birth
      of Christ was not subject to that curse for he was born as men would
      have been born if Adam and Eve had not sinned but remained righteous -
      pure and innocent and without toil and pain more akin to the angels than
      to the beasts.

      The birth of Christ is not only different in terms of toil and pain, but
      it is also different in terms of humility and obedience. The Holy Virgin
      Mary had grown up placing her trust fully and completely in God. She
      lived a life which radiated obedience and its direct fruit, humility.
      She put her trust completely in God and obeyed His will without fail.
      This complete trust allowed her to live a simple life - God commanded
      and she obeyed without question, without understanding, without fear,
      without worry or concern. Even the most fantastic thing was normal for
      her. The Holy Archangel Gabriel came to her from God and announced that
      she, a virgin, would conceive and bear a Son Who would be God incarnate.
      Even the Archangel was amazed that such a thing could happen, but Mary’s
      response was simple, pure acceptance and obedience. She did not question
      why or how (beyond ascertaining that God Himself would intervene) but
      she just obeyed. With simple and complete trust she accepted the Word of
      God, despite the impossibility of what had been given to her. Hence the
      birth of Christ, a truly amazing miracle, was accomplished by her
      without worry or fear by simple obedience born of trust.

      The righteous Joseph, on the other hand, was not quite so trusting and
      that made his life a bit more complex. Upon hearing that the Virgin Mary
      was with child, he began to plot according to his own understanding. He
      figured out for himself that she must have violated her vow of chastity,
      which he had promised to preserve in her betrothal. This was evidence,
      in his mind, of adultery and would subject the Holy Virgin to the
      punishment of stoning. He then began to plot how he could quietly
      preserve her life and so formed a plan to “put her away privately” that
      is to divorce her without any public fanfare. Joseph, took this simple
      act of obedience and made it complex. But God intervened and sent an
      angel to Joseph prompting him in the right direction, telling him not to
      fear and to take the Virgin Mary as his wife for she had not sinned but
      that she was the instrument of God’s miracle. And Joseph, at this gentle
      prompting, dropped all of his complex plans and schemes and embraced the
      simplicity of obedience. The greater one’s trust and obedience, the
      simpler life becomes.

      We who live in this world tend toward complexity. Our life is complex
      with many different sometimes conflicting things going on all the time.
      We have to constantly juggle all of our responsibilities and desires and
      make decisions about what is more or less important and how to
      coordinate things. Even as very young children we begin to ask “why?”
      and the answer “because I said so” does not suffice. We think: I want to
      be the master of my own life, because only I know what is best for
      myself and so I have to understand all the various implications and
      results of each decision I face. I am perfectly willing to obey someone
      else, if what they are asking of me “makes sense” and when their
      requests begin to go against my common sense, I begin to question until
      either I understand or I no longer am willing to cooperate. This is the
      kind of complexity that we bring into our lives so easily that it seems
      natural and unavoidable.

      The simplicity of obedience is still available to us, however, it
      requires that we trust God. The more we trust Him without question or
      doubt, the simpler life becomes. It is the common reaction to any adult
      in the Church to wants to understand everything that is going on so that
      he can guide his own spiritual life to its greatest profit. But that
      still leads to complexity, for the desire to understand is born of the
      desire to be in control and master of my own fate. What God asks of us
      is to let go of our desire for self mastery and replace it with
      obedience and trust. Rather than understand all of His instructions to
      us, He asks that we simply obey and leave the “why”s up to Him. This
      requires that we trust Him more than we trust ourselves. And that kind
      of trust is born of love. We trust ourselves more than anyone else
      because we love ourselves more than anyone else. If we follow Christ,
      then we have to love Him more than we love ourselves which in turn will
      lead us to be able to trust Him more than we trust ourselves.

      The path to a life of simple obedience, like that of the Holy Virgin
      Mary, rests in the love of God. If we wish to be able to live the kind
      of life that the Virgin lives then we must develop within ourselves this
      same love of God. When we love God, we will trust God and when we trust
      Him we will obey Him. This process, however, also works in reverse. If
      we obey God, then we will grow to trust Him and as we trust Him, we will
      also love Him. The easiest path to developing within ourselves the love
      for God is simple obedience. This path is not always easy for we will
      continually be struggling with our own passions and our need for mastery
      and self determination. But these are needs of the fallen nature and the
      transforming grace of God can help us to overcome those fallen desires.
      We have all, with our first parents Adam and Eve, fallen into
      disobedience and pride. The path which is opened before us by Christ is
      that of obedience and humility. It is not a path without struggle for to
      walk this path means that we must deny ourselves, it means that we must
      take up our cross and crucify ourselves, it means that we must follow
      Christ rather than ourselves. But this path of obedience and humility
      leads to the love of Christ and to the simplicity of life in Him. This
      is the path of the Virgin Mary, of the Righteous Joseph and of all the
      saints, and this path is open now for us too.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.