St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
26th Sunday After Pentecost

26th Sunday After Pentecost

Luke 12:16-21  /  Ephesians 5:9-19

In the Gospel and Epistle readings set forth for today we hear a harmonious message which should speak wisdom and guidance to our soul.

In the holy Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we hear that we are to ‘walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)’, and we are to ‘try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord’.

And in today’s Gospel reading we hear about the rich man who thought to hoard all of his wealth and bask in his worldly luxuries and enjoyments. This man, whom the world would call a success, God calls a fool – for he was wholly preoccupied with laying up treasures on earth for himself and neglected that ‘one thing needful’, the love of God and the destiny of his eternal soul.

The rich man in today’s Gospel was not a fool because he had an abundant crop and many possessions. The man was a fool because he selfishly believed that he was the sole source of his good fortune, that his worldly goods were all he needed, and because he allowed his preoccupations with the things of this world to overwhelm and obscure his perception of the true meaning of his life. The light of God had become eclipsed by his pride and his trust in his worldly wealth.

Hearkening back to our Epistle from today, we hear the admonition: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ We are advised to walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

It is certainly easy to have the impression that the days are evil. There is a lot happening in the world today… no doubt about it: pandemics, vaccines, questionable elections, threats of wars, natural disasters, immorality celebrated as virtue, societal lockdowns and all manner of apocalyptic sounding events.

And in such times we are advised to walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time. How are we to make best use of the time?

An example is set before us today of someone who thought he was wise, who thought he was going to make best use of the time… trusting in the bounty of his land, he planned to build great barns for storage so he could relax and live off of the fat of his crops. But that night his very soul was required of him. His illusion of control was stripped away. The time allotted to him to cultivate the salvation of his soul was wasted on material gain, on inflating his pride and sense of self-satisfaction.

Our world has been turned upside down over this past year. Who could have predicted last December that we would find ourselves in this current situation? Whatever illusions we had of control over our lives have been challenged by the unpredictability of all that is happening now.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the chaos we are witnessing in the world today is a wake-up call. Can we hear the alarm?... ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. We reflected on that day how paradoxical it is that on this great feast of the Entry into the Temple, we, and so many others, are suffering from not being able to enter into the temple of the Lord. It is a frustrating thing… and a situation which we all hope will be short lived, but how are we to deal with this circumspectly? How are we to make best use of this time?

The Virgin Mary entered into the temple… she, who would become the temple into which God Himself would enter. And I am convinced that this is the lesson for us regarding how to make best use of this time.

If we cannot enter into the temple of the Lord right now, then let us use this time to diligently make ready the temple of our soul for the entry of our Lord. We make the temple of our soul ready for God by sweeping out all the cobwebs of sin and the dust of our spiritual negligence. Now is the time for us to heed the call of the Apostle: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

And, have no doubt… if we strive with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength to love God, to prepare the temple of our souls to receive Him, then that light of Christ will shine upon us. And in that light of Christ, no darkness or confusion of this world will overcome us. As the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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