The truth is we are all converts. Some of us were born into households where we learned at our earliest moments that the rhythm of the Faith was going to inform our lives. Others of us have these dramatic moments of confrontation with Faith that mark a specific time and place as the place where we came to Faith.
But the truth is, we all have those kinds of moments scattered about our lives where we do actively say to ourselves “You know, I really do believe this Faith. I am going to let my Faith inform my choices.” the fact is we all need those moments when the Faith of my ancestors becomes “MY” faith as well.
In today’s Epistle reading St. Paul says: “BRETHREN, I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.” Romans 11:13-24
There is so much to be said about the blessings and the benefits of deep ancestral commitment to our Orthodox Faith. Such benefits and blessings to having a heritage of generations of Orthodox. I know some people who’s ancestors in the Faith reach all the way back to the earliest centuries of the Christian Church. Amazing! What a blessing! But only if the present day commitment to the faith is purposeful and active! Why? Because mere nostalgia or dependence on some ancestral connection to Christ never produces a health practice of the Faith that can then be passed on to the next generation. If strong Christian commitment is nothing but a racial memory, it won’t be long until it isn’t even that.
No, “God ain’t got no grandchildren.” God has sons and daughters, who build on and are actively grateful for the faith of their fathers.
Likewise, those of us who have actively converted to our precious Orthodox faith are like the “wild olive branch” grafted into the Vine. “Wild” indeed! But we have the added challenge of humbly embracing all the wisdom preserved in this timeless Church with humility and genuine hunger for that wisdom. Because if the “natural branches” were lost to unbelief, then how quickly can the Lord restore those “natural branches” if they revive their faith and love.
Today, my dearest, whether you have the irreplaceable treasure of a deep heritage of Orthodox faith, or you are, like me, the first in your family to have the blessing of entering the Orthodox Faith, each of us has blessings and challenges that can only be realized and overcome by an active participation in this Treasure of Orthodoxy.
Today, be Orthodox on Purpose, whether you are a “natural branch” or a “wild branch.” And let us give glory to God for each other!