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Homily for 3/16/14 - L2 - our great salvation

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  • David
    Heb 1:10-2:3 We live in a beautiful world filled with marvelous wonders. Just look around and see all the wonderful things that surround us. The mountains, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2014
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      Heb 1:10-2:3

      We live in a beautiful world filled with marvelous wonders. Just look
      around and see all the wonderful things that surround us. The mountains,
      the plains, the rivers, the deserts, the stars in the sky, the sea and
      all the fish therein, the trees, birds of the air, the flowers of the
      field … the list could go on and on. Then we remember that God, who
      created all this beauty and wonder placed man as the crown jewel and
      ruler of all creation. Now that you have this picture firmly in your
      mind, consider again the words of the epistle that we just heard, “And,
      Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and
      the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou
      remainest; and they shall all wax old as doth a garment; and as a
      vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art
      the same and Thy years shall not fail.� In just a few words the whole
      enormity and wonder of creation is put into its proper perspective for
      all that is created shall one day grow old and be “folded up� and put
      away – but God does not change and will never fail.

      We ourselves are part of that creation which will grow old and be put
      away, however, God, because of His great love for us has offered us the
      opportunity to be united to Himself and to share in His eternal and
      divine nature. This is the “great salvation� of which the Apostle speaks
      – it is, in fact, the purpose for which we were created and our intended
      destiny. That purpose and destiny, however, were set aside when we
      sinned. But God did not give up on us – indeed He never gives up on us –
      and provided a means by which we could overcome our sins and return to
      the path towards our created purpose. In order to enact that remedy, He
      took our flesh, our nature and became incarnate. God became a man like
      us in order that by assuming our flesh and our nature it might also be
      deified and we might thereby be joined to Him.

      Now we come down to the injunction, “How shall we escape, if we neglect
      so great salvation…� We can contemplate the greatness of God and the
      wonderful opportunity to become like Him that He has provided for us by
      His incarnation, His death and glorious Resurrection. The question,
      however, comes down to us – to you and me. What will we do with this
      “great salvation�? Because we live in the world, we are surrounded by so
      many things that pull us away from God. We have possessions and plans
      and responsibilities and desires. We see the door of the Church open to
      us, we see the path of salvation laid out before us, but somehow our
      lives tend to get “too busy� to really focus on working out our salvation.

      There are two basic ways revealed to us by our Lord and St John the
      Forerunner and Baptist to cope with the world that have shown fruit
      throughout the life of the Church. One is to completely cut off the
      world, to separate oneself from everything worldly and live only the
      spiritual life. This is the monastic path, revealed to us in the life of
      the Forerunner, and there are some who follow this path. But monasticism
      is not for everyone. The demands of monastic life are severe indeed and
      not everyone is able to follow this route (in fact not everyone should
      follow this route – only those who are called to it by God). One of the
      great mistakes that people sometimes make is to try to live a monastic
      life while in the world. The monastic life is difficult enough in the
      monastery where the world is shut out by the walls and gates of the
      monastic enclosure; in the world, however, there are no walls and there
      are no gates and world presses in on us making it impossible to use the
      same techniques and strategies as monks to pursue the spiritual life.

      There is, however, a second path, revealed to us by the life of our Lord
      – the path of the layman living in the world. We who have been called to
      this path do not cut off the world, but we transcend it. Although we
      live in the world and move through it, we do not allow the world to have
      a hold on us. In order to do this our lives must be ordered according to
      the spiritual principles of the Gospel. We start first with our goals.
      The goal of the Christian life is to live in union and communion with
      God – nothing else matters. Thus every choice that we face in the world
      must be evaluated in the light of that over-riding goal. Another
      important characteristic of that goal is that it is not rooted in this
      present life, but in eternity. We will not see the fulfillment of that
      goal in this life, but only when we enter the Kingdom of God will we be
      able to fully see its fruits. Thus when, in this life, we struggle and
      labor and seem to face all manner of difficulty, we have to remember
      that our reward, the fulfillment of our goal and purpose, is not here in
      this life but in the life to come.

      Having reset our goal to that eternal goal of union and communion with
      God, we now can begin to move through this life without being attached
      to it. While the world clamors for us to acquire this or that possession
      or to accomplish this or that status or accomplishment, we no longer
      need to concern ourselves primarily with them. No matter what status we
      achieve, no matter what we accomplish, no matter how many (or how few)
      possessions we compile, none of this can have a hold on us. It is all
      given to us by God not for our own enjoyment, but for the working out of
      our salvation and for the welfare of the Church. Thus if I am wealthy
      and esteemed in this world – it is nothing and as a Christian I am ready
      to give it all up: or if I am poor and discriminated against in this
      world – it is likewise nothing. The only thing that matters is the
      “great salvation� that God has provided for us.

      For us, in the world, the means to acquire and work out that salvation
      are given to us in the life of the Church. We pray and fast – in order
      that by doing so we commune with God (that is the purpose and effect of
      prayer) and forge that link with Him and we cut the ties that the world
      has on us (that is the purpose and effect of fasting) that we might
      transcend the world. We attend the services and join in the corporate
      prayer and work of the Church that we might be joined to one another in
      the Body of Christ. We receive the sacraments in order that we might be
      touched by the hand of God through the material elements of the
      sacrament (water, oil, bread, wine, the hand of the priest). We order
      our lives and set our priorities in harmony with the life prescribed by
      the Church. Sometimes this is difficult, sometimes it is easy – but
      always it is profitable in that it brings us nearer to God as we
      progress toward the goal of living in union and communion with Him.

      Keeping all this in mind, let us then return to the warning of the
      Apostle, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation …�
      This poses the question to each of us, “Are you neglecting your
      salvation?� Have you ordered your life in harmony with the Church? Are
      your priorities based in your worldly responsibilities, goals and
      possessions or are they based on the spiritual life? Does the world have
      a hold on you? Does it stick to you like mud? Or do you move through the
      world with ease because your hopes and dreams and desires are tied to
      the next life? During Great Lent we have this opportunity to reassess
      our lives, to cut ties to the world, to renew and strengthen the ties to
      the spiritual life, to re-center and re-focus our lives on Christ. Are
      you making use of this opportunity? Or are you neglecting this great
      salvation that has been provided for you. Through His great love and
      compassion for you, God has opened the door to this “great salvation�
      and He will not abandon your or forsake you. The only question is
      whether you have abandoned God in favor of the world – are you
      neglecting the salvation that God has provided for you?

      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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