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Homily for 7/1/12 - P4 - Faith and Humility

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  • Fr David Moser
    John 8:5-13 Romans 6:18-23 A centurion came to Jesus to ask that He heal his sick servant. This is a remarkable event just on its own premise for the centurion
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2012
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      John 8:5-13
      Romans 6:18-23

      A centurion came to Jesus to ask that He heal his sick servant. This is
      a remarkable event just on its own premise for the centurion was
      certainly a Roman and not a Jew and had no reason to ask anything of our
      Lord, for to the Romans – especially the soldiers – the Jews were a
      conquered people and the Romans, to their minds, had proven themselves
      superior to the Jews. Why then would a Roman centurion come to ask
      something of a Jew. This occurrence is not unlike the encounter of our
      Lord with the woman at the well – however in that case the Jews
      considered themselves superior to the Samaritans. The woman was amazed
      that Jesus would even speak to her and ask something of her – and in
      this case it was just as amazing that a Roman centurion would seek out
      Jesus to speak to Him and ask something of Him. However just as our Lord
      reached out to the woman of Samaria, so also, demonstrating His great
      compassion and love for all men, He reached out to this centurion.

      The centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant who was lying at home,
      paralyzed and in torment. However as our Lord began to prepare to go to
      the home of the centurion to heal the servant, the centurion said a
      remarkable thing. “Lord I am not worthy that You should come under my
      roof. But only speak a word and my servant will be healed.” The great
      faith of the centurion in the power of God was revealed in this
      statement – this then was the reason that this Roman centurion sought
      out Jesus Christ, a Jew to ask of Him a favor; simply, he believed. And
      more than that, this Roman centurion said another remarkable thing to
      Jesus, “I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.” This man,
      who was the victor, the conqueror, who was counted by all the world as
      “superior” says to a person of a defeated, subjected people – “I am not
      worthy that You should come under my roof.” What a remarkable evidence
      of not only faith but humility here. By his simple statement, this Roman
      centurion exhibited two great virtues, faith and humility.

      This statement of the centurion is preserved for us and given to us as a
      model of prayer by the Church. In the preparation for Holy Communion,
      one of the prayers appointed to be read is that of St John Chrysostom.
      Like the centurion we come to Christ asking Him to enter into the house
      of our body through Holy Communion and like the centurion we begin with
      humility, acknowledging our own unworthiness for we say, “I am not
      worthy, O Master, that Thou shouldest enter beneath the roof the of the
      temple of my soul for all is empty and fallen and Thou hast not in me a
      place worthy to lay Thy head.” Here we confess our own unworthiness and
      our own fallen and sinful state. In our fallen pride, we consider
      ourselves to be the equal of God – or at least that we do not need Him.
      But only when we lay aside that pride and approach Him with humility can
      we say with the centurion – “I am not worthy that You should come
      beneath the roof of my soul.” First, like the centurion we must believe
      and have faith that we need the help and assistance that only God can
      give, that we are too weak and powerless in ourselves to accomplish the
      task of our salvation. The root of all sin is pride, the belief that I
      am all powerful and all sufficient, pride in my own ability, my own
      strength, my own individuality. This pride separates me not only from
      God but from my fellow man, for in my pride I think that I have no need
      of anyone else and, even more, that I am better than anyone else. We are
      brought up with this pride from our youth and the language of our
      popular culture expresses it well. We are taught that we must be
      self-sufficient, self-reliant and that we must have self-esteem and
      self-worth. However, in order to follow Christ we must first deny
      ourselves and become instead reliant upon God, depending on God’s
      sufficiency, and we must know that we are valued and esteemed by God. We
      must, in short, sacrifice our “self” and take instead that which God
      freely provides for us. In so doing, instead of separating myself from
      God, I join myself to Him – as we heard today, the Holy Apostle said,
      “Having been set free from sin we have become slaves of God.”

      Not only have I, in my pride separated myself from God, but in
      attempting to order my own life without Him, I have taken this being
      (myself) that He has created and ruined it. The house of my soul, which
      was built as a fine mansion for a great King has been given to me to
      adorn with the virtues and with piety provided by God Himself. But in my
      pride and foolishness, I reject that which God has given and instead
      make a shambles of my soul with the vulgar and garish passions and now
      all is fallen into ruin. In our pride, as the Apostle reminded us, we
      have “presented our members as slaves of uncleanness and of lawlessness
      leading to more lawlessness … (and) the wages of sin is death” So now,
      even though we have repented of our sin, even though we have joined
      ourselves to God, we have nothing worthy to present to him, but only the
      soul that has been ruined and spoiled by our own self will. And yet even
      so we have hope that He will enter in and restore the beauty and
      grandeur that was lost.

      Throwing all of our hopes upon God and having joined ourselves to Him,
      we then recall His great love and compassion such that He has humbled
      Himself for our sake and for our salvation. We ask Him once again to
      lower Himself and as He once consented “to lie in a cave and in a manger
      so also (to) consent to lie in the manger of my irrational soul and
      enter into my defiled body.” Here we confess that we have ruined our
      soul and that it is now no better than a cave and that we have sunk to
      the level of the beasts. “And as thou didst not refuse to enter and dine
      with sinners in the house of Simon the leper, so deign also to enter
      into the house of my lowly soul, leprous and sinful” And even now our
      soul continues to be a place of contagion and uncleanness but still we
      have hope that our Lord will enter in and cleanse us by His presence.
      “And as thou didst not reject the harlot and sinner like me, when she
      came and touched Thee, so be compassionate also with me a sinner, as I
      approach and touch Thee.” See now how we compare ourselves to the harlot
      who came an anointed the feet of Jesus with ointment and washed them
      with her own tears. She did these things out of her own repentance and
      sorrow for her sins. Likewise this is what is needed from us – to repent
      and to grieve over our sins.

      Having set aside our pride and having joined ourselves to Christ and
      having confessed our sins and repented of them, we now place our hope
      upon Christ and we say with St John in this prayer, “But let the fiery
      coal of Thy most holy Body and Thy precious Blood be unto me for
      sanctification and enlightenment, for the healing of soul and body,
      …unto the application of Thy divine grace and unto the acquiring of Thy
      kingdom.” It is the precious Body and Blood of our Lord which eliminates
      our sin and burns from us all of the evil which remains and it is the
      precious Body and Blood of our Lord which brings to us the divine grace
      which heals and repairs the ravages of sin and restores the soul to its
      former beauty and brings us finally into the Kingdom of God.

      We are not worthy that our Lord has come to us for in our sin and pride
      we have separated ourselves from Him and we have ruined the soul which
      He gave to us. However, if we set aside our pride, if we place all of
      our hope in Christ, if we confess our sins and repent of our sins, if we
      make ourselves slaves to righteousness and turn from evil and do good,
      then just as the wages of sin is death, so also the gift of God, Who
      gives us His own most holy Body and His own precious Blood, is eternal 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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