BECOME AN ANCESTOR OF CHRIST!
"You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God," says Paul in the verse preceding today's Epistle (Colossians 3:4-11). Christians are baptized into Christ's death and resurrection. Thus, death ought to have no sting for us since we have already passed through it. Since we continue living in this world after our Baptism, we have the vocation of manifesting here on earth the Life of the Son of God.
St. Paul exhorts followers of Christ: "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you". The Good News Bible (Today's English Version or TEV) gives the following list: "sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greed is a form of idolatry)". We must certainly recognize many of these in our lives. We have a lot of work to do through prayer, repentance, fasting, vigilance and honest self-examination.
St. Paul goes on: "On account of these the wrath of God is coming" ("upon those who do not obey Him" - TEV). Nowadays Christians talk mostly about the mercy and kindness of God. This is a good thing. Christian preachers who paint a picture of an angry God, waiting to visit damnation upon sinners, give a distorted image and make it difficult for troubled sinners to turn to Him as a loving Father, who forgives and waits patiently and yearningly for His children to return to Him. But we must not ignore the Scripture's warnings about God's anger. (Remember the Divine anger Jesus showed when He purified the Temple in Jerusalem, driving out the money-changers and merchants). God has created a world with a moral order. There is a right and a wrong way of living. Those who stubbornly persist in doing wrong (and justifying it!) can not forever escape the results of their behaviour. The anger of God will ultimately bring about their downfall and misery.
Listen to St. Paul: "Put them all away: anger (our human anger has a purpose, but we must not allow it to dictate our actions),.. malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices, and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator".
On this Sunday of the Forefathers of Christ, let us remember that we are all called upon to let the Christ-Child grow within us by replacing the old ways with the new. The Synaxarion (Lives of the Saints) of the Athonite Monastery of Simonos-Petras says: "Planted in us by faith and Baptism, He must grow within us.. Having become 'children of God' by the gift of the Holy Spirit.. (we must) become 'ancestors of Christ' in our turn.. (and) celebrate His Nativity by saying: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Gal. 2:20)'". Amen.
V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash