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homily for 7/29/12 - P8 - Seeking God's help

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 14:14-22 Hearing of the death of John the Baptist at the hand of Herod, our Lord, Jesus Christ withdrew from Jerusalem. He did this to keep from being
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2012
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      Matthew 14:14-22

      Hearing of the death of John the Baptist at the hand of Herod, our Lord,
      Jesus Christ withdrew from Jerusalem. He did this to keep from being
      arrested Himself as the time appointed for His crucifixion had not yet
      come. He departed from Jerusalem into the wilderness where there were no
      resources, but even so the people followed him. Not only did the men
      follow Him to hear His teaching, but also they brought their families,
      wives and children – such was their devotion to Him. Jesus had
      compassion on them and healed the sick who were brought to Him. As the
      day passed, it was apparent to the disciples that there was no food for
      the people and spurred by their human compassion, they implored Jesus to
      send them all home that they might be able to get their own food and
      drink. Jesus, wishing to teach His disciples an important lesson,
      replied that they should feed the people. The disciples were at a loss
      for they themselves had very little food – just a few loaves and a
      couple of fish. There was no way that this little bit could even begin
      to provide for the crowd that had followed Jesus. Jesus instructed them
      to bring the food they had to Him. He blessed it and broke the loaves in
      pieces and gave it back to the disciples, instructing them to distribute
      it. And here there was a great miracle for those 5 loaves and 2 fishes
      were sufficient to feed the whole crowd – 5000 men plus the women and
      children who were with them – with 12 baskets full of remnants; more
      than they had had in the beginning.

      From this miracle, we see an example of how God bountifully provides
      for us, however, it is not just an example of God’s provision, but also
      a lesson in how we come to God seeking His assistance. First we look at
      the people who came – they left everything behind, taking no thought for
      their personal needs. The only thing they desired was to be near Jesus
      Christ. These people lived out the teaching of Christ in the sermon on
      the mount, “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. But seek ye first the kingdom of
      God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
      you.” (Matt 6:31-33). When we seek help from God, we leave behind all
      our worldly concerns and focus only on that which is important – to seek
      the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. If we seek this, then all of
      our other needs will be provided by God. What does this mean then in our
      prayers? There is no need to constantly ask God for that which we need
      (or think we need) in this world – He knows our needs and will provide
      them. We should instead focus on our spiritual needs. Thus we need not
      ask for a house, a car, riches, clothes, possessions – God will give us
      what we need. But that is hard sometimes for we are surrounded by our
      worldly needs. How then should we pray? It is sufficient to tell God our
      needs, our woes, our worries, our anxieties, our concerns and then to
      simply release them into His care by saying, “Thy will be done” or
      simply “Lord have mercy”. Having unburdened our hearts to Him, then we
      continue in prayer by asking for those things which only He can give –
      the grace of the Holy Spirit, the establishment of the virtues in our
      hearts, strength to fulfill His will in our lives and to work out our
      salvation. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

      Having taken this example from the crowd that followed Jesus let us turn
      now to the disciples. When they first saw the problem, they came to
      Jesus asking Him to act according to the only solution that made sense
      to their worldly reasoning. Jesus, however, in order to teach them,
      turned the request around and told them to feed the crowd. This was
      certainly not what they were expecting. Here was their Lord refusing to
      even consider the reasonable course of action and instead asking them to
      do the impossible. What was He saying, how could He expect them to feed
      all these people. When they asked how they were to do this impossible
      thing, Jesus asked them to give Him what they had – the obviously
      inadequate loaves and fishes. He blessed it and gave it back to them so
      they could hand out this inadequate provision to the people. Now we have
      to credit the disciples with incredible faith here for instead of
      complaining, they took the few pieces of bread and fish and began to
      hand them out. And instead of running out, the bread and fish kept
      coming and coming and coming until all the people were fed.

      We come to Jesus seeking salvation and we do the things that seem right
      to us. We try to be “good” (whatever “good” is) and to be a nice person.
      But Jesus asks of us the impossible – to be perfect as our Father in
      heaven is perfect. He does this to point out to us that our perspective
      is flawed, we are reasoning with our fallen worldly wisdom – but He is
      calling us to a whole new place, the Kingdom of God. By asking the
      impossible, He shocks us out of our complacency and self satisfaction
      that we are “good enough”. Our response, like that of the Apostles, is
      basically, “How? How can I do what you ask? Its beyond my ability,
      beyond my resources”. But Jesus doesn’t leave us there, stunned and
      helpless. He asks of us what we can give – our 5 loaves and 2 fishes. He
      asks us to give Him what we do have and accepts it from us. He then
      takes our imperfect, inadequate lives from us and bestows on us His
      blessing. Then He gives it all back to us and tells us to go do that
      impossible thing again – this time with His help.

      At this point we are faced with a decision. Will we throw up our hands
      in despair and give up or will we act with the same faith of the
      disciples and take what He has given us (even though we don’t see how
      its going to work out yet) and begin to do as He asks? The disciples
      took the blessed bread and the two fishes and began to feed the people.
      They didn’t understand how it would work and didn’t even see it happen,
      but somehow the whole crowd was fed. For us this is the key – to act in
      faith, trusting that even though we can’t see beyond our next step, that
      Jesus knows the whole path and will carry us through to the end, one
      step at a time. When the prophet Moses following the instruction of God
      to go and bring the people of Israel out from Egypt was stopped at every
      turn by Pharaoh, he turned to God in prayer saying that he couldn’t do
      it. God’s reply to Moses is something that we can all take to heart
      “"Now you will see what I will do...I am the Lord and I will bring you
      out from under ... I will take you to me for a people and I will be to
      you a God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God..." All we have
      to do is to act in faith and then we too “will see what [God] will do”
      in our lives.

      Here in this feeding of the multitude we can learn lessons about seeking
      help from God both from the crowd and from the disciples. From the crowd
      we learn the necessity to set everything of this world aside and to set
      as our top priority to seek the Kingdom of God, trusting that our God,
      Who loves us and knows all that we need, will provide for us. “Seek
      first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” From the disciples we
      learn the next lesson – that even when we are asked to do the
      impossible, that we need only turn to God in faith and trust that He
      will make up for our own inadequacies and shortcomings. All we need to
      do is to walk with Him one step at a time, trusting that He knows the
      way. When faced with the impossible task of working out our salvation,
      we just need to trust God when He tells us "Now you will see what I will
      do... "

      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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