Truth be told all the great stories have already been written. Homer pretty much wrapped up all literature with the Iliad and the Odyssey. Of course, hero stories are replete throughout history. Even stories of virgin births and miraculous resurrections and gods becoming human are all stories told for centuries. Let’s face it, if it’s a good story, it’s already out there.
Now some find that disturbing to their faith. Those who mock Christianity use this reality (there’s no honor or integrity in hiding from the truth, folks) to accuse the Christian Gospels of plagiarism of Egyptian myths! Whole libraries have been written attempting to discredit the Faith by saying there was no “real” Jesus Christ. He was just another “hero” story that was so common in the “unenlightened” days of the past.
Well, isn’t that special? But what if there was another explanation? What if God loved His creation and His creatures so much He absolutely inundated all of human history with His Story? What if God made sure that every culture, every language, every “tribe”, and every age had the same hunger for a “hero” to come and save us? And then, what if God fulfilled that common hunger by actually doing the very thing every culture hungered for? Why, that would make sense, wouldn’t it?
This is exactly what God has done. His love for EVERYONE is seen in every culture’s hunger for a hero! But not just any “hero.” At every Divine Liturgy the priest prays over the gifts being prepared for the Eucharist and says “…it was neither a man nor an angel, but the Lord Himself Who saved us…” It is this message of “fulfillment” and “revelation” that sets the Christian Gospel apart from all the other “stories” that prepared all of humanity to receive Christ!
In today’s Epistle Lesson St. Paul reveals the extent to which our Loving God has gone to even reach out to those of us who, being outside the original covenant God made with Abraham, were never “tutored” towards Him by the Law of Moses.
Look at this portion of today’s Epistle Lesson from Romans 9:18-33: That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33
God has planned all of human history to give every human, every culture, every language an opportunity to come back to communion with our Creator through Jesus Christ. What the People of the Nation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob missed, we who did not have the advantages of the Law to teach us have now been, by grace and mercy, offered a place in the Body of Christ, Who is the True Israel, fulfilling all the promises God made to our father Abraham. God has accomplished and brought to full harvest the seeds of His love planted in every age, language, and tribe, so that No One is left as an “outsider.” In fact, the spirit of “exclusivity” and “privilege” has all been drowned in the sea of God’s love for every person ever made! And He has done this miracle through His Son, our Lord Jesus.
Today, where is your mind captured by the false notion of “this only belongs to our tribe?” Where does the insidious lie of “we alone deserve God’s special favor” hide in your heart, your actions, and your attitude? It is time for this false delusion to die, because God has love His world so much that He has sent His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall be saved! And I mean “whosoever!” In fact, I’ll end with this: If the Faith is only able to be embraced by only certain peoples, that is not the Christian faith established in our Orthodox Church! It isn’t Orthodoxy at all. No, our Orthodox faith belongs to and is the birthright of every human being who has ever lived. That is the amazing Good News of our precious Orthodox Church. Forever! Turns out we are all God’s “constituency!” Now to let everyone know!
P.S. A prayer request: Today we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our parish festival in Cumming, GA. Once again we will throw open our doors to everyone in the area and lure them onto our church grounds with wonderful smells of homemade food, joyous dances of our precious heritage, and invitations to “Come and See” the beauties of our faith, which is the “mother” of all the other joys we celebrate these next few days. Please pray, not for financial success (how pedestrian and mundane!), not for “good weather” (I’m suppose to cover that need!) but for each heart God has prepared to hear and see the beauties of our precious Orthodoxy to be ready to not just “Come and See” but “Come and Stay!”