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Homily for 6/24/12 - P3 - God provides

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 6:22-6:33 “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2012
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      Matt 6:22-6:33

      “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we
      drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things
      do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need
      of all these things.”
      This is the promise of God that He will care for us. All these basic
      needs: food and drink, clothing, shelter are necessary for our survival.
      And we need not even ask God for these things, He knows our needs and
      provides for us. Not only these basic needs, God knows all our needs and
      provides all of them.

      If this were true then why don’t we all enjoy a full belly and a stocked
      pantry? Why is there homelessness? Why are there those who do not have
      sufficient clothing? Why are there the poor? Perhaps they don’t trust
      God, perhaps they have offended God and He has withdrawn from them and
      therefore they are poor. How foolish that is! What a preposterous thing
      to think. If God’s provision were somehow dependent on our love for Him,
      then we would all be paupers, for none of us love God as we should. No,
      God provides for all our needs according to His knowledge of what we
      need – it is our task to make use of His provision.
      For a moment let us look at some examples of how God provides for the
      needs of His people. When the Hebrews were wandering in the desert after
      fleeing Egypt, they found it difficult to find food, for they were in a
      great desert. After the lush farms of Egypt, it must have seemed to them
      that God’s table was pretty sparse. Moses brought the needs of his
      people before God and God provided for them – not the banquet of fine
      food, but the daily miraculous fall of manna from the sky. This food was
      not notably tasty or a gourmet item, but it provided for the needs of
      the people. God does not, however, always provide miraculous food. There
      are also in the accounts of the lives of the saints many instances in
      which God provided food in a much simpler manner. And beyond that there
      were those saints (for example the desert dwellers) who required only a
      little food and were sustained on a few ounces of bread and a little
      water each day. There are those among the martyrs (for example the
      martyr Maria of Persia) who were thrown into the dungeon and starved.
      There was no food, but they drew their sustenance from God as did the
      angels without having to eat. So many ways in which God sees the need of
      the people for food to sustain themselves each day and provides that
      sustenance according to the needs of each. For some it is the miraculous
      fall of manna, for others it is the gift of a stranger, for others it is
      to reduce the need for food or even to remove it altogether. And for
      most of us, God provides simply by making food available to us in the
      normal course of our lives – only our gluttony or desire for “fine food”
      or “pure food” or “tasty food” gives us anxiety.

      In their 40 year wandering in the wilderness, the Hebrews did not have
      the ability to supply all their clothing needs as they would have if
      they were settled. But God did not fail them for beyond all reason,
      their clothing did not wear out, did not deteriorate for the whole time
      of their wandering in the wilderness. And again, this is not the only
      manner by which God sees that need and provides for us. St Mary of Egypt
      spent the majority of her life in the desert beyond the Jordan river and
      saw no man. The desert can be hot in the day and cold at night. The land
      is harsh and filled with rocks and abrasive plants. Clothing is
      necessary to provide protection from the sun or warmth in the cold and
      to cover the skin and protect it from the harshness of the land. When St
      Zosima met St Mary, she ran from him at first but when finally he pled
      with her not to flee but to speak with him of her life, she asked that
      he give her a cloak for she was naked. The clothing she had worn when
      she entered her life in the desert had long ago disintegrated and she
      had nothing with which to protect herself or to keep warm. But she did
      not ask for the cloak because she was cold or as a shade from the sun –
      she asked for the cloak only out of modesty to cover her naked body and
      hide it from the gaze of another person. God provided for her needs
      without giving her clothing, protecting her from the sun and warming her
      in the cold and keeping her from injury. Her only need for covering was
      for modesty. God provided for the Hebrews by keeping their clothing from
      wearing out, but for St Mary He eliminated the need for clothing
      altogether providing warmth and shade and protection by the hands of the
      angels. And for most of us God provides clothing almost without effort –
      it is only our vanity that causes to worry.

      Today we also celebrate the memory of the Apostle Barnabas. In the
      account of his life it is recorded that he died on the island of Cypress
      but no one knew where he was buried. Centuries later, the apostle
      appeared to the Archbishop of Cypress in a dream and directed him to the
      place of his burial. This was not just so that the saint could be
      venerated but rather, at this time the Church of Antioch was attempting
      to absorb the Cypriot Church under its administration but the finding of
      his burial place confirmed that the Church of Cypress was of apostolic
      origin and therefore should be independent. God saw the need of the
      Church to resolve this question of order and the need for internal peace
      and through the Apostle Barnabas, He provided for this need.

      Also today we remember the miraculous revelation of the hymn “It is
      truly meet…” (‘Axion esti’ in Greek or ‘Dostoyno yest’ in Salvonic). On
      Mt Athos a monk was reading the canon of the Mother of God in the cave
      church that he shared with his elder (they lived in caves on the face of
      a cliff, almost impossible to get to). The elder had gone to celebrate
      the feast at the larger monastery church but instructed his disciple to
      sing the service at their own chapel so that it would not be without the
      services on this feast day. As he was singing “More Honorable than the
      cherubim…” a man appeared at the door of the cave church and began
      singing “It is truly meet…” The monk hearing this hymn was struck by
      both the words the heavenly singing of the stranger. When he asked about
      the hymn, the stranger replied “this is how we sing it at my home.” The
      monk desired to learn this hymn and asked the stranger to write it down.
      But there was nothing with which to write and so the stranger took a
      marble tablet and wrote on it with his finger as though it were made of
      wax. Having given the monk this hymn the stranger, who was in truth the
      Archangel Gabriel, disappeared. The monk told his elder of this
      happening when he returned and the marble tablet was taken first to the
      main monastery and then all the way to the Patriarch. The Church
      witnessed the truth of this hymn which we now sing at nearly every
      service. But to give us this hymn there was a need for a tablet upon
      which to write – and seeing that need God provided (as He did with the
      Prophet Moses and the tables of the law) a stone upon which the words
      were written as though it were wax. Again, God provides in the manner
      according to His will and our need.

      We have seen how God sees our needs and provides for them in a variety
      of ways – He provides for us not necessarily in the manner in which we
      think He should or that “makes sense” to us or even what fits our plans
      best, but rather He provides in the manner that is best for our
      situation and our salvation. The basic fact to remember is that God does
      provide for us regardless of how He does it. It is only up to us to
      trust Him and to use what He gives to us.

      Having thus been freed from the need to spend our time and energy on
      acquiring our material needs, what are we to do? This freedom too is not
      without purpose for our Lord goes on to give us our primary task: “But
      seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness”. Our primary
      task is not to make sure we have food or clothing or shelter or any
      other worldly need – God will provide all that – our primary task is to
      acquire the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is what St
      Seraphim also tells us, that the purpose of the Christian life is to
      acquire the Holy Spirit. The grace of God is our greatest need – not
      food nor clothing nor shelter nor any other worldly thing. If we spend
      our time and energy pursuing the Kingdom of God then we can be sure that
      God will provide for all our other needs. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of
      God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

      --
      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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