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homily for 6/30/13 - P1 - All the Saints

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  • David
    Heb 11:32-12:2 In the Epistle today, we heard of all those saints who experienced both great joy and great suffering in order to proclaim by their lives the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2013
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      Heb 11:32-12:2

      In the Epistle today, we heard of all those saints who experienced both
      great joy and great suffering in order to proclaim by their lives the
      same Truth that we proclaim – that the God/man Jesus Christ has come
      into this world to rescue us from our sin by His death and Resurrection
      and that He has sent the Holy Spirit to us that we might become like Him
      and be united to Him. Today we celebrate the result of all His actions –
      we celebrate the feast of all the saints. On this day we remember that
      there are many more saints than just those who we see in the icons or
      whose names and lives are recounted to us in the hymns of the Church. It
      is true that there are countless saints who we know and commemorate –
      but it is also true that there are infinitely more saints who are
      unknown to us, who struggled in the closet of their hearts and who have
      not been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Not only are there countless
      known and unknown saints who have gone on before us, but there are
      saints standing right here in our midst. They may never be recognized or
      revealed as saints, there may never be an icon or a service chanted in
      their honor – but they are saints none the less. We, that is you and I,
      are all called to be saints – that is what we were created for, to live
      in union and communion with God. It could be (may God grant!) that each
      and every person standing here in the Church today will be a saint and
      will stand with the countless number of other saints who, as the Apostle
      says, are too many to mention.

      How is this possible, how is it that we could ever achieve that great
      calling to be a saint? The key to this is given in the last verse of
      today’s reading. We look to our Lord Jesus Christ who is the author and
      finisher of our faith. It is only with His help and by His power that we
      are transformed into saints. In the Epistle we also heard that we must
      “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us”. Here
      we see the effect of the death and Resurrection of Christ in our lives.
      Indeed all of mankind has been “ensnared” by sin – in our fallen state
      we are held captive by sin, death and the devil. However this
      “ensnarement” is broken by the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross.
      No longer does sin “ensnare” us except by our own choice. We can choose
      to step aside – to avoid the entanglements of sin – and follow Christ as
      He shows us the path of salvation, the way of Life. St. John Chrysostom
      points out that this verse has a dual meaning – speaking of avoiding the
      sin which easily ensnares us and at the same time speaking of the sin
      whose snares are easily avoided. This sounds as though these are
      incompatible understandings – opposites which cannot coexist, however
      these two understandings are in fact complimentary and serve to present
      us with an amazing witness to the effects of Christ’s resurrection in
      us. This sin is indeed that which “easily ensnares” us because we are
      born as fallen creatures, slaves to this sin and to live under its
      control is a natural inclination – thus it “easily ensnares” us. However
      this sin is also that which has had its power broken by the Resurrection
      so that it no longer can compel us to “give in”. By relying on the power
      of Jesus Christ, that sin, which before held us captive can be not only
      resisted, but avoided so that it cannot grasp us and pull us under its
      power.
      One of the mistakes that we most often make when faced with temptations
      is to try to resist sin by our own power, and we forget to call upon
      Jesus Christ to come and intervene even at the first mere mention of sin
      and to deliver us by His power and drive the sin from us. All too often,
      we try to resist sin on our own and only as a last resort – or even
      after we have failed and fallen into the power of the sin – do we think
      to call upon Christ. In order to “easily avoid” the power of sin, we
      must not wait until our own strength is shown to be weakness, but rather
      abandon our own strength at the very beginning and call upon Christ
      right away to deliver us.

      Having been delivered from the power of sin by our Lord Jesus Christ, we
      are then able to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
      That is, we are able walk the path of salvation that our Lord has shown
      to us. And we find that we are not alone. The whole choir of saints –
      both known and unknown – walk with us. The Apostle doesn’t say that they
      are above us or below us or off to one side, but rather that we are
      “surrounded by so great a cloud” of saints. They are with us, walking as
      we walk, supporting us as though they are our friends. The Apostle
      reminds us that these saints have not yet obtained their reward, but
      that they are not made perfect apart from us. This means that their
      salvation is wrapped up with ours, just as our salvation is wrapped up
      with theirs. We are all being saved together so that finally we might
      together be presented as the one Bride of Christ to the great Bridegroom
      who will receive us into His heavenly Kingdom. Therefore, our salvation
      is important to them for we are part of their salvation, just as the
      communion of the saints is so important to us and a part of our
      salvation. Together we approach the Kingdom of God and together we will
      enter into our reward.

      There is an uncountable number of saints – some known and some unknown.
      On this day, the feast of All the Saints, we honor all those, known and
      unknown, with whom we are joined in our salvation. We too, each one of
      us, are called to be saints. By the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, we
      have been freed from the power of sin so that sin no longer easily
      ensnares us, but now that ensnarement can be easily avoided by following
      the path which our Lord lays out before of us. Having freed us from the
      power of sin, He now enables us to walk together with all the saints, in
      fact to become saints ourselves, as we approach our salvation together.
      We are not alone – we are called to be part of the great choir of
      saints, to be united with them in the Body of Christ, to become with
      them the Bride of Christ. This is our destiny, our calling, our purpose
      – to be united to one another and together to enter into the Kingdom of
      God.

      --
      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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