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Homily for 2/16/13 - P37 - Zacchaeus

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  • Fr David Moser
    The cycle of the Sunday services revolves around Pascha each year. The theme of the Sunday readings starts over each year when we begin to prepare for Pascha,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2013
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      The cycle of the Sunday services revolves around Pascha each year. The
      theme of the Sunday readings starts over each year when we begin to
      prepare for Pascha, that is with the 4 pre-lenten Sundays, and ends the
      next year right before we come upon that time again. Today, then, is the
      last Sunday of the cycle, the last Sunday before we start the pre-lenten
      Sundays next week. The last Sunday of the cycle always refers to the
      story of Zacchaeus

      Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a man who was completely entwined with
      the world. His life necessarily revolved around the possessions and
      wealth of others and the transfer of that wealth to the empire in the
      form of taxes, with of course as much as he could keep for himself. Here
      was a man utterly bound up with the world. This is entirely appropriate
      for us – after a year of being pulled this way and that by the world and
      all that is in it, we find that we are all to some extent diverted from
      following the path of Christ. We have let all kinds of extraneous
      worldly interests, ideas or desires into our lives and they have begun
      to capture us. We have all, as it were, wandered onto some blind alley
      or on some new direction which invariably leads us away from Christ. It
      is time now to reset our internal compass and to engage upon a spiritual
      “course correction” for our lives. And it is Zacchaeus who demonstrates
      this need to us.

      Hearing that Jesus would pass through Jericho, something broke through
      Zacchaeus’ worldly preoccupations and a desire was born within him to
      see Jesus. Zacchaeus was small of stature and so when he came to see
      Jesus he was unable to do so because of the crowd. So great was this
      desire in him that Zacchaeus cast aside all his pride and dignity and
      like a little child climbed a tree to see over the top of the crowd. At
      that moment, our Lord called out to Zacchaeus that he should come down
      out of the tree and prepare to receive Him as a guest in his house.
      Having come to the end of the cycle of Sundays, we find ourselves
      greatly encumbered by the cares and concerns of the world. We see that
      the time for Pascha is coming around again and the desire to “see
      Christ” is born in us as it is in Zacchaeus. But we are caught in the
      middle of a crowd and somehow we have to escape. Like Zacchaeus, it is
      up to us to let go of our pride, let go of our egocentric dignity and
      humble ourselves like little children. Seeing our humility as He saw
      that of Zacchaeus, the Lord will then say to us – prepare yourselves, I
      am coming to visit you.

      Having received the Lord Jesus Christ into his home, Zacchaeus then
      responded to the compassion of Christ by repenting of his sins. His
      repentance is a good example for us in that it is clearly an active
      repentance. Repentance is the turning away from sin and that means first
      of all changing the way that we live. This we see in Zacchaeus in that
      while he remained a tax collector, he turned away from collecting more
      than he was due. He continued to live the life that he had, but now he
      lived it in a new way – with honesty and righteousness. Not only that
      but he sought to redress the wrongs that had come about because of his
      former sin, which he now eschewed. Not only did he give half of his
      wealth to the poor – the poor who were often created and kept poor by
      the system that made him a rich man – but he restored the money that he
      had taken on false pretenses. Not only did he make restoration, but made
      a fourfold restoration (that is he gave back $4 for every $1 that he
      stole). See the active nature of his repentance. First he turns away
      from his sin and then he seeks to make restoration and moderate the
      damage that was caused by his sin.

      When we repent, our repentance cannot be just a silent, secret decision
      that we make in the privacy of our thoughts and feelings. It is not even
      just feeling regret for the things we have done. True repentance is
      joined to action. That action seeks to reverse or at least moderate the
      damage that our sin has caused. This means healing wounds (both physical
      and emotional) that our actions may have caused; it means making right
      and restoring the losses of others which resulted in our illicit profit.
      Active repentance means doing what we can to right the wrongs that we
      have perpetrated and not only eliminating the sin from our behavior, but
      also changing our way of life to exhibit the opposite of that sin. One
      of the principles of resisting temptation in the writings of the fathers
      is that when we face a particular temptation, then we should immediately
      undertake an action that is the direct opposite of that temptation. If
      you are tempted to gluttony – then it is time to fast. If you are
      tempted to greed – then it is time give. If you are tempted to pride –
      then it is time to humble yourself. If you are tempted to anger – then
      it is time to force yourself to acts of compassion.

      In preparing to receive Christ, you will see those sins and passions
      which have the greatest hold on you. Your first action, upon recognizing
      these sins is to repent and them immediately amend your life not just to
      eliminate the sin, but to begin doing the direct opposite. Zacchaeus was
      bound by the love of money and possessions as well as pride and dignity.
      The first thing he sacrificed was the pride and dignity by climbing a
      tree like a child and then he turned away from his greed and embarked
      with great gusto on a life of charity and giving. So during this coming
      Lenten season, and the following Paschal season, as you become more
      aware of your sins, look not only at how you can eliminate the sin but
      also look at how you can incorporate the opposite virtue in your life.
      This is the path of active repentance that is demonstrated to us by
      Zacchaeus.

      Today we face the end of the year of Sundays. Despite our struggles, we
      have all inevitably accumulated a lot of worldly “clutter” that pulls us
      away from Jesus Christ and hides Him from us. Therefore today we are
      called to readjust the trajectory of our lives; to make a “course
      correction”. It is time to rise above the clutter of the world that
      surrounds us by humbling ourselves so that we can see Christ and respond
      to His call begin preparing ourselves to receive Him. This preparation
      involves recognizing our sin, repenting and turning away from it and
      changing our lives to incorporate the opposite virtues. We have the
      whole of the pre-lenten and Lenten season to effect this preparation for
      our meeting with the Risen Christ on Pascha.

      --
      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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