Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where we have been must guide where we are going

On the Sunday before Christmas the Orthodox Church reads the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew’s account of Christ’s ancestry. Ever since the fall of humanity in the Garden, God has been working out His plan for salvation, played in the ancestry listed in the Gospel of Matthew. For the ancient Christian Church it was crucial to understand their Old Testament origins before they could properly understand Christ’s mission. This is why Christ spent so much of His ministry re-setting the foundation of the Old Testament Law. He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5.17.6)

In fulfilling the Law, the Law did not somehow expire. As Saint Paul reminds us, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” (Romans 3.31) Saint Paul, guided by his understanding of the Mosaic Law and of Christ, helps us to understand the Law was meant to guide our life into a Godly life. The same thing is true when it comes to Church Law (known as the Holy and Sacred Canons) handed down throughout the centuries.

The Holy and Sacred Canons are not an end unto themselves, but a way of life meant to lead us to living Christ-like lives. If we can better understand where these Holy and Sacred Canons come from, we can then, and only then, understand where we are heading in the future. About the Old Testament Christ said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16.31)

We have the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church, the Saints, to guide us along a way of life in Christ. If we do not hear them, we are bound to the same ignorance of God as the ancient Jews. The Holy Apostles and Fathers urge us to a life of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, weekly Holy Communion and the other sacraments of the Church to help us live Christian lives.

If we do not hear the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church, neither will we turn our lives toward God and prepare for His Glorious Birth.

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