THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE
CHRIST IS BORN — GLORIFY HIM! You know the Lord came into the world as a child, as a newborn child. As it says in the Epistle of John "… so that you and I might become the sons and daughters of God." I mean, that is the whole purpose of this Christmas Season; to remind us not so much that Jesus was born but that He was born for a purpose. That purpose is to make you and me the children of God. Now that's pretty fantastic. It goes on in the first epistle of St. John to talk about this sonship of God … what it means. It means that we are to love each other, that we are to help each other, that we are to commend each other, that we are to be supportive of each other, if we are really to be children of God.
Jesus came in order to give us the possibility to change our whole circumstance. Prior to the coming of Jesus the human race lived like animals. There was no love, there was no compassion, there was no mercy, there was only the law. You either lived by the law or you died. One or the other. There was no in-between. It's a very severe way of life. Jesus came and preached another extreme; "Love your neighbor as yourself," "Love your enemies, do good to them that hurt you and despitefully use you." Jesus said, "I am come that you might love one another and that in loving one another your joy might be filled." In fact He said, I am come, "so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be (fulfilled, made perfect) complete" (St. John 15:11). "I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly."
Does that mean that we are going to the live longer than the prescribed seventy years? Not necessarily. But what Jesus was talking about is quality of life, a quality of that is immeasureably and superbly happy because there is first the commandment of love. Love God, love your neighbor, love! Love your brother, love the near neighbor and the far neighbor, love the stranger, love the poor, love the imprisoned, love those who require your compassion and your love. So the whole quality of life changed with Jesus. I think Jesus came, laws began to be changed. Nations started to become more humane and it was with Jesus coming that we have such things as the contesting of capital punishment for so trivial a crime as stealing a loaf of bread. Imagine … the middle ages, if you stole a loaf of bread they cut off your hand or they put you in the blocks and let people throw rotten vegetables and mud at you. Can you imagine that happening in North America? Well it happened with our pilgrim forefathers and it happened with their forefathers in Europe before them. It was with the advent of Christianity that laws began to take shape with more mercy and compassion. In fact I sometimes think maybe we've gone a little bit too far the other way but that's not for me to contest and that's not the purpose of this message.
It is through the changing of the laws that sweatshops have been eliminated: Christian people with their compassion for young children being taken practically from their mother's bosoms and put to work in slave labor sweat shops, who rose up against this practice that eliminated the sweatshop. It was Christian people prodded by their conscience that got the women the vote. It was the Christian conscience that caused people to look with compassion on those less fortunate than themselves. I'm not talking only about individuals, I'm talking about institutions. Christian non-Christian institutions motivated out of this conscientious sense of love and the fulfillment of the joy of Christ within himself, move to help to alleviate hunger wherever and whenever they can. "I am come that my joy might be in you and that my joy might be fulfilled in you." You have nothing to be sad about. Christ came to make you sons and daughters of God. As St. Athanasius said, "God became man so that man might are to be become God." Fantastic concept! Something greater than we could ever conceive for ourselves!
During this Christmas, I remind you of St. Paul's message to the Galatians and of St. John's message to us. "I am come that my joy might be made perfect in you." "I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly." "Peace I give you. My peace I leave with you. Not as the world gives do I give unto you." These are words of our Lord. He gives us joy, life, peace and love. May His blessings be upon you at this holy time of the year and today and tomorrow as you gather with your families, may you rejoice with one another and be steadfastly happy in the Lord for He is good and He loves you.
From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America