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Homily for 7/7/13 - P2 - The cure of the soul

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  • David
    Romans 2:10-16 The core of this reading from the epistle to the Romans is found in the words, ôFor not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2013
      Romans 2:10-16
      The core of this reading from the epistle to the Romans is found in the
      words, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the
      doers of the law shall be justified,” This saying clarifies for us that
      it is not only what we think or intellectually accept as true, but
      rather what we do about it and how we act. It is not enough just to be a
      member of the Orthodox Church or to agree with her teachings. It is not
      even enough just to be baptized and chrismated (although these are
      important, even necessary things). Just as important, and just as
      necessary, is what we do, how we live. Our lives must be conformed to
      the Gospel, to the teaching of Christ, or everything else is incomplete
      and does not lead to our salvation.

      The Apostle says that those who have the law will be judged by the law;
      but those who do not know the law, when they do those things prescribed
      by the law of God will gain the benefit of those things and will be
      judged according to the knowledge that they do have. Does this mean that
      one need not be a part of the Orthodox Church to be saved? Can we just
      be a “good person” according to our own understanding and that will
      somehow be enough for God? What then is the need for sacraments, for
      fasts and feasts, for following the life of the Orthodox Church?

      To answer these questions we need to ask a different question. We need
      to ask the question, “What is Orthodoxy?” In finding the answer to that
      question, our other questions will also be answered. Protopresbyter John
      Romanides, a well-respected Greek Orthodox pastor and teacher, answers
      this question for us:

      “Orthodoxy is neither a culture nor a political system, because it is
      concerned with our personal salvation ,with the salvation of our souls.
      … Orthodoxy is not even a religion. Orthodoxy is not a religion like all
      the other religions. … Orthodoxy is a therapeutic course of treatment
      that heals the human personality.

      “A genuine doctor concerns himself with the treatment of anyone who is
      sick, without exception and without discrimination. ... [He] only
      notices whether or not the people who come to him are sick. And if they
      are sick, he … tries to treat them and heal their infirmities. In
      Orthodox tradition we have something similar to this, but even more so.
      … [If we wish to be healed] we must go to the Church … to competent
      people who … possess the curative method of the Orthodox tradition, then
      we must be obedient to them in order to find healing.”

      The Orthodox Church is a hospital to cure the sick soul. This hospital
      is run by the Great Physician, our Lord Jesus Christ and he is assisted
      in this by those whom He has set apart as spiritual physicians, that is
      the bishops and priests. These assistant spiritual physicians are
      themselves assisted by the former and present patients who have
      themselves begun to be healed.

      In order for a person who is ill to gain benefit from going to the
      doctor, they must not only listen to and accept the doctor’s diagnosis
      and recommendations, but they must also do as the doctor has instructed.
      It is the same in the Church. If we are to receive benefit from the
      Great Physician, we must follow His instructions, that is we must live
      in obedience to His law, conforming our lives to His. We can’t just hear
      what He has to say, agree with it, and then go on and do what we want to
      do, expecting to be healed. Rather it is necessary to change the way
      that we live according to the tradition of the Church which is our
      curative therapy.

      Now if there were a person who was suffering from some illness, but who
      had not consulted a physician, and this person happened on some exercise
      or remedy that was helpful; they would benefit from that remedy even in
      their ignorance – for a healthy practice is always healthy no matter how
      it came to one’s attention. However, such a practice is out of context
      and incomplete. In order for a full and complete healing to be effected,
      the physician would recommend not only continuing on that path, but
      would also prescribe other remedies to help speed the healing process.
      Some of those remedies (for example a prescription medication) might
      only be available through the physician, while others (such as diet and
      exercise) might be something a person could find on their own. The
      important difference here is in receiving a complete course of treatment
      with everything in its proper place and context.

      Spiritually we find the same thing. There are those who, not having come
      to the spiritual hospital, have found some exercises or diets that are
      helpful and so they derive some benefit from those remedies. But what
      they have found is incomplete at best or even worse, by taking them out
      of context the remedy actually begins to exacerbate the overall illness
      while addressing only a small issue. For example a person who had a
      headache and took aspirin might be relieved of the headache, but would
      miss the aneurism causing the pain that was about to burst and bring on
      a stroke. Because the treatment is out of context and incomplete,
      important aspects are not discovered and treated. Only in the spiritual
      hospital of the Orthodox Church is the whole range of treatment
      available (even the “prescription medication” of the sacraments) and in
      a complete context. It is prescribed and administered as a complete
      whole by the Great Physician and those whom He has appointed. The
      patient also has the assistance of those other patients who, having been
      through the same difficulties, are now able to support and help their
      fellow patients who are being healed. Only in the Orthodox Church is
      this complete spiritual curative therapy available.

      And now we come back to the core message: “not the hearers of the law
      but the doers of the law are justified.” We can come to the Great
      Physician and hear His instructions; we can praise His wisdom and
      acknowledge His superior skill in treating the sick soul. We can even be
      admitted to His spiritual hospital for treatment, but in the end we have
      to follow His direction – we have to do as He tells us – in order to
      receive the benefit of the spiritual therapy and be healed. If you would
      be healed, then don’t stop at just listening to the Gospel, or just
      coming to Church, or just joining the Church. These things by themselves
      are not enough. If you would be healed, then adopt the way of life that
      is prescribed by the Great Physician, live according to the curative
      tradition of the Orthodox Church. This is our salvation; this is this
      healing of the soul which restores each of us to union and communion
      with Jesus Christ and which brings us into His Kingdom.

      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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