Holy Trinity Celtic Orthodox Church

http://www.celticorthodoxchurch.com

 

 

HOMILY FOR THE EPISTLE READING

FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE ASCENSION  

1 Peter 4:7-11

 

The Rule of St. Benedict echoes this Reading. This Reading in a very

real way shines light on the holy Rule of our Father in Faith, Benedict of Nursia.

 

Peter here urges us to live in a holy and godly manner since so great a

destruction is on the horizon. He tells us further that we ought to be

steadfast in the faith and remain pure so that we may be found righteous

and holy on that day.

 

These thoughts are very good; are there, however, other activities for

Christians to keep in mind owing to the nearness of the end? Certainly!

Peter tells us further about the actions that befit a Christian living

in these times. Let us now read this text, 1 Peter 4:7-11, and then

examine what Peter has said:

 

Let us begin with verse 7:

 

"But the end of all things is at hand." Peter here is making a

declarative statement which is made evident in his and Paul's writings:

Christ will return, and will do so soon. This is an ever-present concern

that ought to be held by all men. "...Be ye therefore of sound mind, and

be sober unto prayer." Peter here begins to make some conclusions on the

basis of the previous declarative statement: "therefore, do these

things." We are told first to be of a sound mind, an idea seen in 1

Thessalonians 5:4-8: But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that

day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light, and

sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; so then let

us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober. For they

that sleep sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are drunken in

the night. But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the

breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

 

Paul relates to us that Christians are to be of the day, and to set

aside the works of the darkness. Christians must always be alert, at any

moment ready for the Lord's return! There is no room for slackening off

while we walk upon this earth.

 

Peter continues his thought with "be sober unto prayer." Why would we be

sober unto prayer? Prayer is seen as our avenue of communication with

God (Matthew 6:4), and if we are going to approach the Almighty God and

petition Him with our concerns and cares, we had better be in a proper

frame of mind to do so! Prayer must always become a greater and greater

part of our lives, especially as we see time continuing on to its

inevitable close.

 

And now, verses 8 and 9: "above all things being fervent in your love

among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins." Peter here

gives the ultimate priority for the Christian in the end times: fervent

in love among yourselves. This same point is emphasized by Paul in 1

Corinthians 13, and John speaks in 1 John 4:7-8: Beloved, let us love

one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten

of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is

love.

 

Love, therefore, must be an integral part of the life of the Christian,

and what better power of witness is there than to demonstrate such great

love for one another? Christians ought to be people known by and

peculiar because of their great love, not only for themselves, but for

all men!

 

Peter also mentions that love covers a multitude of sins, a thought

reminiscent of James 5:20, where we learn that helping to restore a

fallen brother to the faith covers a multitude of sins. Our love for one

another will find great approval in the eyes of our Father, and He will

reward us in kind.

 

BENEDICTINE HOSPITALITY

 

"...Using hospitality one to another without murmuring." Why would Peter

ever discuss hospitality in a discussion of the end times? We may look

at the world around us and see why -- hospitality is lost on many. This

should not be so for the Christian! Paul, in Romans 12:13, says that the

Christian should be "given to hospitality." Being hospitable is required

of elders (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8), and is one of the requirements a

widow would have to meet to be placed on the "list" (1 Timothy 5:10).

The Hebrew author tells us in Hebrews 13:2:

 

Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have

entertained angels unawares. Christians are to be hospitable people--

this is one impression that can be left on an unbeliever or a member of

a denomination that will not be easily dismissed. We must be given to

hospitality even more now that the day is approaching, so that the love

of Christ may be manifest even more as the wickedness of the world may

increase.

 

Peter further commands us to be hospitable "without murmuring," or, in

more understandable English, "without complaint." If you, as a

Christian, cannot stand to be hospitable to people on Earth, what are

you going to do when you spend eternity with these people? If you

believe that it is simply "too much work" to be hospitable, what would

you do if the Father considered it "too much work" to prepare a place in

Heaven for you (Matthew 25:34)? What if the angels of the Lord desired

to be in your presence? Then what would you say? Hospitality may not be

easy, but it is commanded of us for our own good, to make sure that we

are continually edified and encouraged so that we may resist the evil one.

 

Verse 10: "according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among

yourselves." Have we all received some form of a gift? Absolutely! As

Paul says in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: And having gifts

differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy,

let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or ministry,

let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his

teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let

him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that

showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit

withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and

to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to

another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in

the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another

prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds

of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these

worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even

as he will.

 

Finally, let us examine verse 11: "...If any man speaketh, speaking as

it were oracles of God." We read in the Old Testament concerning the men

of God who spoke to Israel and the importance of the transmission of the

message of which they were given. False prophets speaking falsely were

sharply condemned for leading people astray. Although the office of

prophet is no longer filled in these times, the importance of the

transmission of the message of God-- the Gospel of the Lord Jesus

Christ-- is great indeed. Those of the body who speak must be diligent

to confirm that what they say is truly the will of God, knowing that he

is speaking as the oracles of God. It would be a most fearful thing to

fall into the hands of the living God if you had claimed to be speaking

His truth but had actually led many astray. Let us give heed to

ourselves and our teachings! "...is any man ministereth, ministering as

of the strength which God supplieth." Jesus relates to us the following

in John 13:12-16:

 

So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down

again, he said unto them, "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me,

Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, the Lord

and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one

another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye also should do

as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, a servant is not

greater than his lord; neither one that is sent greater than he that

sent him.

 

Jesus commissioned His disciples to serve others. His life is an example

of servitude; perhaps no Scripture emphasizes this as well as

Philippians 2:5-9. If Christ completely emptied Himself and suffered

humiliation on our behalf and thus served us, should we not ourselves

serve others? And since God demonstrated amply through the Son that he

who serves is greatest, does He not supply the strength needed for men

to serve?

 

We live in a world where everyone not only desires but even expects to

be served, and there seems to be little room for the servant. We must

decry this trend by emptying ourselves and becoming lowly servants of

God, doing whatever whenever we can to serve our God and to assist all

men in discovering the truth about Jesus Christ. Service is the only way

to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Peter concludes this portion of his message to us with the following:

that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is

the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Our ultimate aim in all that we do is to glorify God and the Lord Jesus

Christ, for the power and the glory lie only with them. Saints have no power

to save, nor do we have the power to sacrifice ourselves for the sins of

others. We have all sinned, and we have all required the sacrifice

performed on our behalf.

 

As the end nears, let us be diligent in applying ourselves to the

message of the Gospel, to love, be hospitable, to exercise our abilities

and to minister to others. Let us do all of these things to glorify our

God who has saved us from all unrighteousness. Let us strive for these

things while there is still time to do so in order to be found as the

profitable servant who has guarded the house of the Master well!