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Homily for 12/3/12 - P26 - Preparing for the feast

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  • Fr David Moser
    Eph 5:9-19 Luke 12:16-21 The Christmas season is upon us. Thanksgiving is past, the Black Friday sales have come and gone. Now we settle in for a season of
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2012
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      Eph 5:9-19
      Luke 12:16-21

      The Christmas season is upon us. Thanksgiving is past, the Black Friday
      sales have come and gone. Now we settle in for a season of celebrations,
      parties, and dinners as we look forward to the coming of Christmas day
      when we give a nod to our Lord Jesus Christ on the feast of His birth
      (despite the fact that the incarnation being the greatest miracle the
      world has ever known), we hurry off to open presents and Christmas
      dinner. - Or not -. This is how the world prepares for the holiday of
      overindulgence that Christmas has become – but we are no longer of the
      world. Christmas (or the Nativity of the Lord) celebrates the
      incarnation of the God/man Jesus Christ. God has humbled Himself,
      setting aside for a moment His divinity and taking on our flesh with all
      its fallen weaknesses. He experienced all that we experience, from birth
      to death; from great praise to extreme suffering; the intimacy of
      friends to betrayal and abandonment. He was tempted in every way, just
      as we are and yet He overcame the temptations and remained Himself
      without sin. It is this unmatched miracle of God becoming man that we
      celebrate on Christmas and we do not prepare for it by indulgence and
      surrender to our passions, but by fasting and vigilance and prayer.

      In the Gospel today we heard the parable of the foolish man who laid up
      riches for himself, but lost them all to death. He acquired the goods of
      the world, those things with which he could indulge himself, his wants
      and desires and his love of pleasure. And just as he acquired these
      worldly goods – he left this world and they were no longer of any value
      or use to him. In his folly, he gathered that which was worthless and
      neglected to acquire the wealth of eternity, the grace of the Holy
      Spirit, by which we share in the life of Christ and through Him, in the
      life of the Holy Trinity. This parable speaks to us about the folly of
      preparing for the coming of Christ by laying up for ourselves worldly
      feasts, pleasures and celebrations. Instead we prepare for His coming by
      seeking out the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      This message is reinforced even more clearly by what we heard from the
      Epistle. The Apostle tells us “Have no fellowship with unfruitful works
      of darkness … walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming
      the time …” He encourages us to set aside those things which are of the
      world, which pull us away from Christ and instead to conduct our lives
      wisely, using the time that we have to prepare for the coming of the
      Lord. He then gives an example which we can also use to understand
      better his instruction to us. He says “be not drunk with wine, wherein
      is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Now one of the things
      that we often see in the scripture as well as in the writings of the
      Fathers of the Church is the use of word play to help us remember an
      important message. Often these plays on words are lost to us for while
      they might be obvious in Greek, they are lost in the translation. In
      that case, lets create our own little “play on words” with this verse
      and rephrase it to say “be not drunk with spirits for therein is
      dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Seek how this points
      out to us the opposition of the worldly spirits which lead only to the
      dissipation of the soul to the Holy Spirit which unites the heart of
      each person with Christ.

      Now intoxication with “spirits” is not the only danger that we face,
      however, it is one that points out to us the general danger of all the
      passions. When we give ourselves over to intoxication, then we surrender
      control of our lives to the “spirits”. How many stories have you heard
      (or how many times have you experienced yourself) of a person who gets
      drunk and then does something foolish that they would never have done
      otherwise. They have surrendered themselves to a force outside
      themselves which leads them into “dissipation”. And what is dissipation
      but the dissolution of the soul man into a slave caught under the
      control of the passions. Now the “spirits” of wine and other drinks are
      not the only passions that can carry us away into slavery. Any
      intoxication, whether one is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs (legal or
      illegal makes no matter), is the surrender of the self and leads to the
      dissipation of the soul. Or perhaps it is not intoxication per se that
      tempts you. Perhaps it is gluttony, lust, greed, the love of pleasure,
      pride, vanity, amusements or any number of passionate attachments which
      pull at you. Perhaps you like to eat too much and are ruled by your
      stomach (or for those who put “quality over quantity” , ruled by your
      palate). Perhaps you attend too much to your appearance, to your
      clothes, your style, your make up, the impression you leave on others
      and so are ruled by your vanity. Perhaps you get caught up in amusements
      such as parties, television, movies, plays, sports, surfing the internet
      or music to name but a few, squandering your time and attention on
      things that have no meaning. (Even the word amusement informs us of the
      futility of such activity for it is composed of the root “muse” that is
      to think deeply or to ponder, preceded by an “a” which is a negation of
      that which follows – therefore an amusement is something which void of
      any thought or reason.) Perhaps you have given yourself over to the
      spirit of the sexually charged society in which we live, attaching
      sexual images to everything from dog food to cars to football games. By
      giving place to the sexual pleasures, images and desires with which we
      are surrounded, you give yourself over to the passion of lust and become
      its slave, while it eats out and destroys your soul like a worm from the
      inside. It doesn’t matter which passion we indulge or whether it is one
      or many of them – the end result is the same, the dissipation of the soul.

      The healing of such a soul is accomplished by the grace of the Holy
      Spirit brought to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing our hopeless,
      impoverished and enslaved state, He took on our flesh, becoming one of
      us and experienced the fullness of life just as we have. But He was not
      overcome by the passions and temptations of this life, rather He
      overcame them. He was not enslaved and therefore He set us free, as many
      as would follow Him. He gives us power over our foes who seek to destroy
      us. He takes the soul that is dissipated by the intoxication of the
      spirits of the passions and heals it by filling it with the grace of the
      Holy Spirit, restoring the unity of the person with himself, with his
      neighbor and with his Creator.

      This is the great feast for which we prepare. God has seen our desperate
      state and He comes to us Himself and just as the Samaritan in the Gospel
      last Sunday, He binds our wounds and cares for us and brings us to a
      safe haven (that is the Church) where we can recuperate. And He will
      return, when we are healthy that He might take us with Himself and share
      with us the life of eternity which He has with the Father and the Holy
      Spirit. This is the feast for which we prepare; how foolish would it be
      for us to sink deeper into our enslavement and dissipation in order to
      greet the coming of the One Who will deliver us from it.

      Let us then, brothers and sisters, keep this Christmas season with
      moderation and restraint – setting aside the things that are evil, which
      destroy us and enslave us and instead acting with wisdom, redeeming the
      time well that we might be ready to meet our Lord and Savior and greet
      Him with joy as He enters the world.

      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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