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Homily for 12/30/12 - 2b4Nat - the tracks of the saints

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  • Fr David Moser
    Luke 14:16-24 Today we begin our preparation for the feast of the Lord’s Nativity in earnest. We begin to look at and appreciate the preparation that God,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2012
      Luke 14:16-24

      Today we begin our preparation for the feast of the Lord’s Nativity in
      earnest. We begin to look at and appreciate the preparation that God,
      Himself, made for His incarnation by considering the ancestors of Jesus
      Christ, that is His physical forbearers. Among those that we consider
      are Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and the other
      patriarchs. We remember the judges, prophets and kings and many of the
      other saints of the Old Testament. Each one of these Old Testament
      saints exemplifies for us a particular virtue, some Godly quality of
      their lives which stands out as a beacon and example for us. There is
      “the God-loving gentleness and meekness of the first martyr in the
      world, Abel; the holy zeal for the glorification of the name of God of
      Enos; the high divine thinking and the fear of God of Enoch; the
      firmness in faith and piety of Noah among the general depravity of his
      contemporary world; the wonderful faith and obedience to the word of God
      of Abraham; filial obedience of Isaac up to the preparation to be
      offered as a burnt offering according to the command of God; the kind
      domestic bravery of Sarah; the penetrating maternal love of Rebecca; the
      mild humility of Jacob who earned the rage of Laban and Esau; the holy
      chastity of Joseph who was more than ready to suffer and die, rather
      than to sin before God; the unhampered invincible patience in the
      sufferings and misfortunes of Job; the meek, wise leadership of Moses
      and Samuel; the inspiring courage through faith of Joshua son of Nun,
      Barak, and Gideon; the high self-sacrificing love for their country and
      people of Judith and Esther; the plaintive and contrite repentance of
      David and Manasseh; the ascetic and divinely intellectual life of Elijah
      and Elisha; the zeal for the glory of God of the holy prophets, the
      unhampered invincible dedication to the law of God and usual patriotism
      of the three youths in Babylon and the rest of the good deeds of all the
      other Old Testament men we celebrate, ‘of whom the world was not worthy’
      (Hebrews 11:38).”(www.johnsanidopoulos.com , Mystagogy ; Sunday of the
      Holy Forefathers)

      In particular on this day we remember the prophet Daniel and the Three
      Holy Children. These youths were among those who were taken captive
      after the fall of Judea to the Babylonians. They were taken to Babylon
      where they served the king. These 4 young men stand out among the
      captives for their unwavering faith in the one true God and their
      refusal to compromise that faith. The three youths were cast into a
      furnace to be burned alive because they would not bow down to an idol
      constructed by the king. As we know they were preserved by God unharmed
      in the midst of the flames, even though the furnace was so hot that it
      killed those who were nearby tending it. Daniel also exhibited his faith
      over and over again, being cast into a den of lions twice – and both
      times God closed the mouths of the beasts. Daniel gained prominence by
      the wisdom and knowledge granted him by God, becoming known as an
      interpreter of dreams and other supernatural phenomena and influenced
      the rulers of Babylon as well as their conquerors, the Medes and
      Persians to worship the one true God. Even so, as he rose in positions
      of power, he never compromised his faith.

      There are many examples of his faith given to us in the scripture,
      however, we will only look at one of these today. There was a large idol
      worshipped by the Persians called Bel. Every day there was offered to
      this idol 12 measures of flour, 40 sheep and 6 vessels of wine. Daniel,
      however, did not bow to this idol and Cyrus the king of the Persians
      asked him why. Daniel replied that he did not worship idols made by the
      hands of men but worshiped the living God who made heaven and earth.
      Cyrus claimed that the idol was not a dead thing but alive and offered
      proof that it ate and drank every day the sacrifices offered to it.
      Daniel denied that the idol could eat and suggested that the king was
      deceived. The king became angry and called the priests of Bel to
      himself. He demanded to know from them to know who ate the food and when
      they contended that the idol Bel did so, the king demanded proof. The
      sacrifice was put into the temple and the door was then sealed with the
      king’s signet. But after the priests had left and before the door was
      sealed by the king, Daniel covered the floor with a layer of fine ashes
      and then the door was closed. The next morning, the king returned and in
      the presence of Daniel and the priests inspected the seal on the door to
      verify that it had not been broken. What he did not know was that the
      priests had a secret entrance and that during the night they and their
      families (there were 70 priests plus women and children) came secretly
      into the temple and consumed the sacrifice. The king opened the door and
      the sacrifice was gone – but before anyone could enter the temple,
      Daniel pointed out to the king that the ashes on the floor – which had
      been undisturbed the night before – were now covered with tracks of men,
      women and children. The king then knew that the idol, Bel, was not alive
      and that he had been deceived by the priests.

      Having heard this account from the life of Daniel, let us remember that
      all of our thoughts and deeds, even those that we think hidden within
      the depths of our minds and hearts, leave traces. Sometimes those
      “tracks” can be discovered simply by looking and other times they can be
      seen only by those trained in the art of observation. Some thoughts and
      deeds are only visible to the eye that has been spiritually attuned and
      therefore we see the value of spirit-bearing elders to help us uncover
      even our secret sins. But God sees all these tracks of our deeds and
      thoughts, whether sinful or virtuous for nothing is hidden from Him. The
      nature of even our innermost selves is revealed by the ashes of grace
      which are sprinkled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

      The Old Testament saints whom we honor today show us the “tracks” of
      their virtues clearly so that not only can we perceive that these
      virtues rest in the saints but they also give us a path to follow so
      that we might be able to incorporate those same virtues for ourselves.
      This is the purpose of the remembrance of these saints, to provide for
      us an indication of the way to acquire the virtues which they themselves

      The door to the Kingdom of heaven was open to all men and all are
      invited to the banquet – and especially to the chosen people of God. But
      not everyone who was invited responded. Just as in the parable of the
      Gospel that we heard today, some of those invited turned away from the
      Kingdom of heaven to pursue their own earthly goals. They chose to
      follow the track of earthly wealth and pleasures rather than to seek out
      and follow the tracks of the heavenly virtues in the lives of the
      saints. Let us then not make the same error, but let us follow these
      wonderful saints who are held up to us today as examples of the virtues
      so that by doing so we might gain these virtues for ourselves. Let us
      follow them into the Kingdom of Heaven, not turning aside and being
      distracted by the cares and appeals of the world. Today we stand on the
      threshold of the feast of the incarnation, the birth of our Lord, the
      God/man Jesus Christ. All these saints prepared the way for His coming
      and by the example of their lives show us how we too can come to Christ.
      The path is laid out for us, the tracks are clear for us, all we have to
      do is follow.

      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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