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homily for 12/16/12 - P28 - hope

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  • Fr David Moser
    Col. 1:12-18 This past week we experienced another national tragedy. A young man killed his parents and then went into a school where he began indiscriminately
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2012
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      Col. 1:12-18

      This past week we experienced another national tragedy. A young man
      killed his parents and then went into a school where he began
      indiscriminately shooting teachers and children. This tragic event
      overshadowed everything else that was happening that day and touched all
      of us in one way or another. We all felt sorrow, anger, frustration,
      helplessness, vulnerability, and confusion. The question of how a person
      could become so deranged that he could do such a terrible thing looms in
      our minds. We see the joy and relief of the parents who were reunited
      with their children and we imagine the tremendous grief and sorrow of
      those parents who lost a child. Our common suffering is evidence that we
      are all at some level united and that when one suffers, we all to
      various degrees share that suffering. How can such a thing happen? It is
      enough even to shake one’s faith in God.

      In the wake of this terrible event there were many ideas advanced about
      how indeed such a thing could happen and what could be done to prevent
      these things in the future. The root cause of such a severe dysfunction
      is of course sin – the sinfulness of our fallen world. Just as we are
      united in our grief and sorrow, so also we are united in our sin. Sin,
      the rebellion against God, sits as a huge stone on the back of our
      society and weighs us down. The more we sin the greater the burden until
      finally sin breaks the back of our society and we fall again into the
      depths of despair and hopelessness. The cumulative effect of our
      sinfulness can be seen in the increase of such despair and hopelessness
      among the members of our society. Depression (which is a condition born
      of despair and hopelessness) seems to be a rampant epidemic among us and
      there is the constant push to take this or that new pill to stave it
      off. Self-help books about how to overcome depression spill off the
      shelves of our bookstores . Depression is everywhere – because sin is
      everywhere; and the greater the weight of our corporate sin, the more
      frequently and severely we see the plague of hopelessness and despair
      around us.

      How then do we combat this plague of hopelessness? First and foremost
      is, of course, to repent and weep for our own sins. By our repentance,
      the weight of our sins is removed from the burden that weighs down our
      society. By easing that burden even a little, each of us contributes
      toward removing the hopelessness that plagues us. Thus when we hear of
      such tragedies, our first response should be to confess our sins and to
      weep over our own sinfulness. Then we pray for those whom we have
      injured by our sinfulness (in this case the parents and children; the
      community, family and friends of those lost). By our repentance we cut
      the ties of sin that bind us, but we still sit at the bottom of a deep
      pit of hopelessness.

      We can’t escape by ourselves, we need help. We need someone to pull us
      out of the mire of our own helplessness and set us again on the firm
      ground of hope. The Psalmist tells us this same truth (as we sing in the
      antiphons of the liturgy) “Put not your trust in princes and in the sons
      of men in whom there is no salvation.” And he then gives us the
      solution, “Our help cometh from the Lord Who hath made heaven and the
      earth” We cannot escape from this pit of hopelessness on our own
      strength and so we call upon the One who can deliver us. Today we heard
      the Apostle proclaim to us the source of our hope, “Giving thanks unto
      the Father, …Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath
      translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have
      redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Now we hear
      again this truth that “Our help cometh from the Lord…” Our Lord Jesus
      Christ is the One Who can deliver us from our hopelessness because He
      Himself is our hope. In seeing our hopeless captivity to sin, God
      Himself took flesh and became man that He might bring to us in person,
      hope. He is our hope and He has come to us. In this season of advent,
      that is the season of preparing for the Nativity, we look forward to the
      coming of this great light. Just as Great Lent turns our minds and
      hearts toward the great sacrifice of the Crucifixion and the victory of
      the Resurrection and prepares us to receive the Light and grace of the
      Risen Christ, so also the Nativity fast turns us toward the descent of
      the Creator to become part of His own creation. It prepares us to
      perceive the light of hope as God Himself descends from heaven to earth
      and is born of the Virgin Mary and becomes man. Here is our hope, here
      is our salvation, here is the One Who delivers us from our helpless
      captivity – the God/man Jesus Christ.

      The problem, of course, is that our society has lost sight of this hope
      and has replaced the worship of God with the worship of man. We no
      longer look to the heavens and see the wonder of God’s creation, but we
      look to the heavens and praise the cleverness and technology of man and
      the science which opens the heavens to our perception. We no longer
      place our hope on the Lord from Whom cometh our help, but instead we
      trust in the accomplishments of man, in science, in technology, in
      medicine, in psychology. Having abandoned the worship of God, we have
      slowly stripped our society of every mention of God. We have removed God
      from our schools and from our public life. If we do mention God, He is
      relegated to a few moments of bored endurance on Sunday mornings as we
      dutifully fulfill the obligation of attendance at some kind of worship
      service. (Is it any wonder that the churches that have made their
      “worship” more like entertainment have found success? How much easier is
      it to fulfill an obligation that is amusing and entertaining?) The rest
      of our time is “our own” when we can do and say and participate in those
      things that cater to our passions. It becomes increasingly difficult
      even for a private person to publicly exhibit any sign of belief in
      Christ. Every attempt to erect a cross or even to wear a cross – the
      symbol of our victory – meets heavy resistance. A person who has faith
      in Christ in his daily life is seen as weak or somehow immature and
      childish. In doing these things, we have slowly but surely ripped out
      the very fountains of hope in our society and replaced them with
      dependence upon “princes and the sons of men in whom there is no
      salvation.” We have created for ourselves a society bereft of hope,
      helpless against the onslaught of despair which leads to self destruction

      If we would change this society, we have to change ourselves first.
      Every society is made up of persons and in our modern democratic society
      the power to govern the future path and character of that society has
      been given to the individual. Therefore if we will change the world in
      which we live, we must first be changed ourselves. In order to be
      changed we first have to embrace the only One who has the power to
      change us, our Creator and Fashioner and God. And this embrace is not
      just a formal fulfillment of some brief obligation to attend Church on
      Sunday mornings when we feel like it, but rather it is something that
      touches the whole life. Every moment of every day we give over to the
      redeeming and recreating power of the grace of God working in us. We
      must hear the words of our Savior calling us to “deny yourself, take up
      your cross and follow Me.” He asks not of us some small portion of our
      lives, but rather He lays claim to our whole life. Every moment of every
      day belongs to Him; every effort and movement of our will belongs to
      Him; every deed and accomplishment belongs to Him. As the Apostle
      reminds us, “He is before all things, and by him all things consist. And
      he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the
      firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

      By giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ completely, He then is able to
      change and transform us completely, freeing us from the prison of
      despair and filling us with His hope. He is our salvation and our hope.
      Here we stand today in the midst of the season of advent, the season of
      preparing ourselves to receive the coming of God incarnate into our
      midst. Today we look forward to our hope, we look forward to the coming
      of the One Who will save us and rescue us from our despair. We await the
      coming of God Himself as He descends from heaven to dwell with us.
      Christ will soon be born, giving us new life and new hope. Let us not
      waste this time of preparation, but rather let us use every moment of
      this time to prepare ourselves to receive Him. He is our salvation and
      not only our salvation but the salvation of the whole world. We are
      caught in the deathly grip of hopelessness and despair – but soon the
      light of hope, the light of the incarnation will shine upon the world.
      He is our hope, our salvation the light of our souls. He is the Maker of
      heaven and earth and the lover of mankind. God Himself comes to us, let
      us then get ready to receive Him.


      --
      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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