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Homily for 12/23/12 - P29 - the end of the world

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  • Fr David Moser
    Just this past week the world was supposed to have ended – at least according to a popular interpretation of the meaning of an ancient Mayan calendar. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2012
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      Just this past week the world was supposed to have ended – at least
      according to a popular interpretation of the meaning of an ancient Mayan
      calendar. The day of that event has come and gone and the world is still
      here. These kinds of prophecies are nothing new. Dates purporting to
      mark the end of the world have come and gone throughout history. There
      are many heterodox Christian confessions that spend an inordinate amount
      of time studying the Apocalypse of St John attempting to interpret the
      events foretold in terms of modern history. Even among Orthodox
      Christians there are those who ferret out comments by elders and other
      saints which seem to indicate that the end is imminent and raise the
      alarm. If we look at our lives and our own times, it seems like every
      year there is some new claim being noised about that the world will end
      on such and such a day. The end of the world has become, it seems, quite
      commonplace.

      In the light of such a frenzy to foretell the coming of the end, it is
      useful to listen to “the view of Elder Porphyrios, and decode why such a
      great Saint of our time, while knowing with precision and detail every
      condition in which we are living and where things come from, avoided
      talking about these things. …The core thought of Elder Porphyrios was
      that people need to consolidate and grow in love towards their Creator,
      not through fear of things to come, but through a selfless relationship,
      as an affectionate father towards his child. (This is) because the unity
      that was the greatest legacy of Christ to His Apostles, can be ensured
      when the child is joined with his Father primarily through love and not
      fear.”

      The root of this obsession with the end of the world is fear. We fear
      the unknown, we fear losing what we have, we fear finding out that we
      are powerless and that our lives will end with no lasting purpose. When
      I was a young man, this fear took the form of global nuclear war – a
      catastrophe that would eradicate life as we know it in a storm of fire
      and radiation. But even this was within our control for we could chose
      not to use nuclear weapons. Then there came the idea that life in the
      universe might just not be friendly and that we would be wiped in out by
      an act of aggression from alien life. This danger from outer space
      easily changed from alien life to the destruction of collision with an
      asteroid or rouge planet. We now look at the same danger not only from
      without but also from within as we consider what might happen if the
      earth were to undergo geological upheaval or climactic change. There are
      so many sources of the destruction of our world and of mankind that no
      longer does it take a real threat, but just the suggestion that
      something might happen and with this suggestion we get caught up in a
      wave of fear and panic.
      As Christians, however, we are not bound to live our lives in such fear.
      Perfect love, the Gospel tells us, casts out all fear. This perfect love
      is, of course, the love of God and if the love of God is the central
      force in our lives, there is no room for fear. If we love God, then that
      love gives birth to trust and confidence. We know that God loves us and
      that He watches over us. We do indeed know that the world will someday
      end and that when such an end comes we will remain in the all-powerful
      hand of God. We do not need to fear earthquake, flood, fire, the sword,
      the invasion of aliens or war (litany of supplication) because God is
      greater than any one of these and we know that neither life nor death
      nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor any
      thing to come, not height nor depth nor any other creature will be able
      to separate us from God. (Rom 8:38) For us the end of the world is
      nothing because we are in the loving care of the Creator of the world.

      The Apostle Paul, in recounting his own situation and the struggles we
      all must face said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)
      “for to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ” (2Cor
      5:8). Therefore if all of our love is focused upon Christ then to lose
      everything in this world, even to die, is nothing but only brings us
      nearer to our hearts one desire, to be with Christ. Such stories of the
      end of the world or some great natural or human disaster will only
      affect us if we have strayed from the love of God and set our love on
      some other thing.

      In speaking of the Apocalypse, Elder Porphyrios tells us, “Wars,
      calamities and upcoming events are the ultimate remedy to human
      apostasy, which is why Elder Porphyrios would say: "The Apocalypse was
      written for it not to happen". The Apocalypse has as its purpose to
      alert, and the way to avoid it is to serve the unity which Christ left
      to us as a legacy.” The prophecies of the Apocalypse of St John (that is
      the book of Revelations) are given to us not as a condemnation or a
      doom, but rather as a warning and an incentive to draw near to Christ
      and to hold fast to Him. The events foretold by the Apostle are revealed
      to us as the consequences of rampant, unbridled sin in the world. If we
      turn away from sin and separate ourselves from it; if we unite ourselves
      to Christ and live in true unity with Him, then these events can have no
      power over us. Nothing in the Apocalypse or in any other prophecy – no
      event and no person – can separate us from Christ and when we are living
      in unity with Him none of these things can harm us.

      Therefore when we hear that the world will end tomorrow, or the next day
      or even the day after that, such news should bring no fear or alarm. Our
      Lord has promised to care for us and to provide every need – just as He
      feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field so He
      will give to us every need. If we hunger, He will provide sustenance –
      if we are naked, He will clothe us – if we are burned by heat, the
      cooling dew of His grace will comfort us and if we are frozen by the
      cold, the warmth of His love will overwhelm us. There is nothing that we
      need that He will not provide. We are in the care of our loving Lord and
      Creator and should some disaster befall us and our life in this world be
      brought to an end, we will live with Him in paradise.
      Earthquakes, asteroids, global climate change, nuclear war and any other
      disaster which threatens to destroy the world are nothing. The only true
      disaster is when we separate ourselves from the love of God and do not
      live in unity with Him. Elder Porphyrios reminds us, “The greatest
      revelation of God was the last night of his life, when for a half hour
      he prayed the Hierarchical Prayer: "That all may be one". … This prayer
      is the greatest legacy of Christ to humanity. May the union of humanity
      with God come to be.”

      (Quotes here on the sayings of Elder Porphyrios are taken from the
      article “Elder Porphyrios, ‘I Don’t Like to Prophesy” on Pravoslavia.ru
      http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/58060.htm )



      --
      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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