Homily

All is Yours in Christ

Rather than talk about the readings from the day, I’d like to focus on the Scripture and the meaning behind Christmas.  St. Paul, who knew very well what it meant to live as a Jew, and then, later, to live as a Christian wrote this to the Greeks in Corinth.  “So, let no one brag about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. –1 Corinthians 3:21-23

This Christmas millions of children (and adults) will find some incredible gifts under their Christmas tree:  video systems, Smart TVs, smart phones, noise-cancelling headphones, and so much more but as amazing as these things are, they in no way compare to God’s gift given at Christmas.

Until Christ came, there was no culture (that includes the Greeks), no religion, no way of living that could begin to compare to not only the freedom but also the truth and the wisdom that the Christian life offers us.  If you don’t know that, you’re missing a lot.  He says, “all things are yours” by virtue of being in Christ.  And what does St. Paul include in “all things”? Things like the world, life, death, the present and the future.  The entire world is at your fingertips.  Amazing. How can this be?  St. Paul, writing to the Galatians 4:4-7 shows how the Christian comes to inherit “all things.”

“When the fullness of time had come (when God was ready), God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, (completely subject to human weakness), to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (to make us members of His heavenly family). And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (by being a member of the family, you inherit everything the Father has to give).

Christmas marks that “fullness of time” when God “sent forth his Son.”  The One who created times and seasons determined that it was the perfect time to send the Son. The second person of the Trinity, God the Son “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (He didn’t need to take it because it already belonged to Him), but emptied Himself (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν), taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Here we have the wonder of the Incarnation: the true God of true God assuming human nature, the most inconceivable, unbelievable thing to ever happen, for both Jews and Greeks, a stumbling block to faith in Christ.

Why would the Son of God take on flesh? Why would divinity take on humanity and “become obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)?  He did it to secure salvation. He saw what we were doing to ourselves, destroying ourselves quite literally, and He wanted to save us.  In other words, as St. Paul said it, “to buy back those who were under the law (ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ), so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). He bought us, paying the ultimate price.  Christ came into the world not only to free us from the tyranny of evil, sin, and death, but also to crown us, to honor us, to bless us with unimaginable glory.

It is also true that, at the Cross, Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).  He took the punishment.  In other words, His work wasn’t done just by being born.  He needed to experience the Cross and the Resurrection to fully buy us back, to redeem us completely from the evil, ungodly lifestyle we were living. But we haven’t been saved only in this “negative” sense, saved only from evil.  We are being saved for something as well and this ties into the idea of all things being ours.  Because we have been adopted into God’s family and given all the rights and privileges of legitimate heirs, because we have Christ as a perfect model to follow, because we have the Church to lead us and guide us, because we have the Scriptures, the holy traditions, the Fathers who teach us about honor and discipline and prayer, there is no possible legitimate excuse that we can give for abandoning our spiritual family and the treasury that’s been given to us.  We are, in fact, the richest of the rich. St. Paul captures this beautifully in 2 Corinthians 2:8-9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you, by His poverty, might become rich.”  And the riches that are ours in Christ are far greater than anything we could ever put under a tree. These riches are, in fact, what we mean by “all things” for “all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23).

So, when we think about celebrating Christmas, when we hear the carols and the cutesy holiday music on the radio, just remember how rich and how free you are because Christ has been born.  There are no limits to the good things that you can be doing with your life.  There are no limits to how many lives you can help to save with your own faith.  The only question is this:  while we’re quick to give gifts, quick to prepare feasts, and quick to promote education for our children, will we be as quick to offer them Christ.  We readily allow our GPS to lead us and to follow secular teachers, let’s put on our souls in the hands of Him who is Holy Wisdom and let Him fulfill our true destiny.

 

 

March 2024

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