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Homily for 11/18/12 - P24 - Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

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  • Fr David Moser
    Eph 2:14-22 In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher there is a stone in the center of the nave that is referred to as the “navel of the world”. It is so called
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 17, 2012
      Eph 2:14-22

      In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher there is a stone in the center of
      the nave that is referred to as the “navel of the world”. It is so
      called because the Holy Sepulcher, the site of the Resurrection of
      Christ, is the spiritual center of the whole of creation. The Sepulcher
      is, of course, found in the holy city of Jerusalem, the central point of
      our Lord’s life and work in the world. Even before this, Jerusalem was
      considered to be a holy city for it was the site of the Hebrew Temple
      and therefore the center and focus of the worship of the One True God.
      The Psalmist composed a hymn of praise to this city and to the Temple
      housed therein saying “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into
      the house of the Lord …” (Ps 121). In Jerusalem, we find still many of
      the major holy sites from the life of Christ and the Apostles. As
      mentioned, there is the Holy Sepulcher as well as Golgotha, the way of
      the Cross, the Judgement Gate, and the other sites familiar from the
      passion of Christ. There is also the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount
      of Olives, the rock of the Ascension and the tomb of the Virgin to name
      but a few. Here we find the earthly footprints of our Lord, of His
      Mother and the Holy Apostles, of the prophets who proclaimed His coming,
      and many other saints.

      Near the end of the Psalm we read earlier (Ps 121), the Psalmist asks us
      to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.”
      How prophetic are these words for throughout history, and especially
      since the middle of the last century, Jerusalem has been under the
      constant threat of violence. One can see bullet holes in the walls of
      the buildings from the recent conflicts and there is the constant
      presence of armed soldiers everywhere. Just in the past week we have
      heard of rockets fired towards the city of Jerusalem landing near the
      walls of the city itself and of the threats of a ground war reigniting.
      Jerusalem, never fully at peace, is again on the brink of war. At this
      moment the words of the Psalmist echo in our hearts, “Pray for the peace
      of Jerusalem…”

      When we hear about Jerusalem these days in the news, it seems that
      everything is about either the Israelis (i.e. the Jews) or about the
      Moslems. There is very little to remind us that there are also
      Christians living in Jerusalem. These local Christians, who have lived
      in Palestine for generations, are a very endangered and persecuted
      minority. They are not Jews and so are discriminated against by the
      Israelis – they are not Moselm and so are discriminated against by the
      Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and elsewhere. Inasmuch as they
      can, these Christians gather around the Holy Places, such as the
      Shepherds Field, where the angels proclaimed the good news of the birth
      of Christ to the shepherds. But they are few and getting fewer as they
      flee from persecution or are killed in the violence which swirls around
      them. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we should pray especially
      for these, our Christian brothers and sisters, who are in danger and
      suffering from the wars and violence around them.

      In the epistle we heard read that Jesus Christ, “Himself is our peace”.
      Indeed the only true peace, whether for Jerusalem or for those who live
      there or even for ourselves is Christ Himself. Conflict arises because
      we are separated from one another. Since the fall of mankind into sin,
      we are afflicted with this separation from one another. The self raises
      barriers against anyone who is not like it and it is these barriers
      which conflict with one another and cause strife between men and on a
      greater scale between groups of men. The only way to eliminate this
      conflict is to remove these barriers and restore our unity with one
      another, however, this is beyond our ability for we are all caught in
      the same trap. Only someOne who is outside this prison and greater than
      it can overcome the sin that holds us in its grasp. That One is Jesus
      Christ who has “abolished in His flesh the enmity … so as to create in
      Himself one new man … thus making peace, and that He might reconcile
      them … through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

      As long as we stand separate from one another, as long as we remain
      wrapped up in our own individuality, as long as we maintain our self
      pride and our self conceit, there will not be peace. But by His death on
      the cross, He has destroyed the walls erected by the self and has united
      those who are separated into one body – that is the Body of Christ, the
      Church. It is necessary for us to deny ourselves and take up our own
      Cross so that we might follow Christ and crucify the self that divides
      us from each other, opening the path to be reconciled to one another and
      together to be reconciled to God.

      Our peace comes from our unity with one another. When we begin to
      experience our neighbor not as someone separate from us but as one who
      is the same as us, then it becomes possible to set aside our conflicts
      and our strife for we are of the same Body, the Body of Christ. Before
      there can be peace in the world or peace in Jerusalem, there must first
      be peace between men. The only means by which peace between men can be
      accomplished is by breaking down the barriers that separate us and being
      united together. This union can only truly be accomplished in Jesus
      Christ, for it is He Who has destroyed the trap of our individualism and
      isolation. It is He Who, through the Cross, encountered sin death and
      the devil and through His Resurrection defeated these enemies who have
      held us captive. It is Jesus Christ Who has opened for us the door to
      peace with one another by offering us union with one another and with God.

      Brothers and sisters, let us truly pray for the peace of Jerusalem and
      for our brethren that live there in the midst of the conflict and
      violence. Let us also remember that the peace of Jerusalem – or the
      peace of any place for that matter – comes about only when we are at
      peace with one another. This peace with one another comes only by the
      healing of our separation from each other and from God and our
      reconciliation with one another and with God. That peace, that healing,
      that reconciliation is accomplished in Jesus Christ for by His own death
      and resurrection, He has broken down the walls that separate us and has
      united us together in His Body and through Himself has united us to God.
      Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and remember that the answer to that
      prayer begins with you – with allowing Jesus Christ to break down the
      walls of separation in your soul and accepting the healing and
      reconciliation that He offers to unite us as one Body, the Body of Christ.

      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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