Fr. Richard's Sunday Homily, April 16, 2017
Great and Holy Pascha
Who We Would Live For
Epistle: Acts 1:1-8
Gospel: John 1:1-17
Several times over the years, watching dramas on TV or in movies a character has ended up being in medical need. Their kidneys are failing. Then someone steps up to offer them their own kidney for a transplant. Parent, child, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, even stranger—someone steps up to volunteer as a donor. But you know, I’m thinking if your girlfriend offers her your kidney it’s probably going to be harder to break up with her if things don’t work out. But these situations always get me thinking, every time— “Hey! You! You know you only have one spare, don’t you?” However, that pushes me a bit further as I wonder to myself, “Who is on the list of people that I would offer my kidney to for transplant?” Who is on that list? Who would be on your list? And who would you be willing to give a kidney to? (And remember, you only have one spare.) That question leads into an even deeper and obviously more critical question: “Who would I be willing to die for in order to save their life?” Who would you be willing to die for? Whose names would you put on that list…if any? Giving up a kidney is one thing. Giving up your very life is on a completely different level of sacrifice. Who would you be willing to die for? As far as I know, only one Person has ever given up His life in order to save mine. When I put that sacrifice in the context of thinking about who I would be willing to die for, it casts quite a different light on the truth that there is indeed a man Who died for me. He died to save my life. In fact, He died to give me life. I guess there is no easy way to know who I would be willing to die for, and maybe the same for you. It would probably depend on a number of things and the situation at hand. For example, my sister knows why I won’t eat her cooking. At the same time, there is another question that I think is even more important, and that is, “Who am I willing to live for?” Or, I suppose you could also ask, “What am I willing to live for?” Die for / live for…they are truly two sides of the same coin, because they ask the question, “Who or what is of the greatest value in my life?” As things stand today, not many of us are likely to have an easy answer to the question of who we would die for. But I would hope all of us would have a genuine and whole-hearted answer as to Who we would live for. But what would people out there say? I suspect there are many parents who might die for their children, and yet, after that, I wonder…who else? Using the other side of the coin, who would people say they are living for? Again, I suspect parents raising their children might give them as an answer, but raising children does not go on forever. What about after that? This is what causes me concern: I suspect there are way too many people who would have great difficulty answering that question about who/ or what, they are living for. And I suspect that it would be difficult for many to come up with an easy answer. And I suspect that by and large, the answer would be, “I’m living for myself.” Not to say that they don’t care about anyone else, not to say that they always put themselves first and never make any kind of sacrifice for others. But still, all in all, living for themselves. When push comes to shove, most of the time they will choose what appears to have the most benefit for them in terms of comfort, pleasure, safety, happiness and self-satisfaction. I understand this. I am tempted to seek these things myself, and I often pursue these same goals for myself. I am not a stranger to putting myself first. This is what fallen human nature is all about. We can have a very, very hard time seeing anything greater than the life that we want for ourselves in this world, to see beyond comfort, pleasure, safety, happiness and self-satisfaction. As I look around today it seems so many are at a loss to say why they are living, or what great purpose their lives serve, or, knowing that you are going to die what then is the value of your life is a question that would prove difficult for many to answer. People are certainly living their lives, but in ways that seem so fragmented, so changeable, so unattached to any anchor of hope or purpose outside of themselves that could act as a guiding principle for everything they do. It seems to me that there are so many who just move along from day to day, pursuing this, maintaining that, looking for something better but rarely knowing for certain what that better thing is. People molded to one degree or another by the media and public opinion, people so keyed in to the current trends that if the internet would ever break down mass suicides would surely follow. It would seem that life is not worth living. I know Who I am living for. I am living for the One Who loves me more than anyone else ever has and Who has done more for me than anyone else ever could do. He died to give me my life, but not my natural human life, rather His own divine life. But the problem with living more deeply in that divine life is that I, like the rest of humanity, am tempted, always and at all times to live for myself rather than to live in Christ—that I seek comfort, pleasure, safety, happiness and self-satisfaction rather than seeking out true and genuine love. It is difficult to give up my own will so that I can instead put my trust in His promise. But today, this most important day of the whole year, this day brings me, and you, the opportunity to once again commit myself, yourselves, more completely to the Lord, as I, as you, reaffirm the truth that He has crushed the power that death can have over my life and over yours. He has crushed the power that death can have over my life and over yours. He offers to me the only life that is 100% human—the life we were intended to live from the creation of the world. My friends, we are living in a sea of people, many of whom have no lasting hope for their lives, only the temporary hopes that are uncertain at best and have no sustaining power. Rather than allowing that lack of hope to weigh us down, and tempt us to live the way we see others living, let us recommit ourselves to live for Christ. And then let us share that hope with those who have no hope, by our words, our deeds and by our prayers. Dramatic conversions to a deeper belief in the truth of Christ may not happen for us. But that’s okay. If we plod along as best we can without laziness or fear, we will still be growing up into the life of Christ. We know who died to save our lives. We know He has a better life He wants to share with us. We know, as St. John told us this morning in the Gospel, that grace and truth only come to us through Jesus. Let us choose again today to live only for Him, because then everything, and everyone in our lives can be seen in the light of grace and of truth.