Growing Up

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Fri, 10/22/2021 - 08:31

When we are small toddlers, our behavior isn’t always what it should be. In our innocence, not having learned proper behavior skills yet, our parents often tolerate tantrums, outbursts, and even selfish arguments about the ‘ownership’ of toys as we scream MINE. Eventually, as we grow, we learn that such behaviors are inappropriate. We call that growing up. Unfortunately, we don’t always ‘grow up’ when it comes to our spiritual behaviors.

In today’s Gospel lesson, Christ warns us that we will be judged by what we have learned. We are no longer innocent of Who God is, or why He has come. We haven’t been ‘living under a rock’ as my yiayia used to say. We know better, so why do we still behave as if we were spiritual toddlers? Here’s today’s Gospel reading.

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy other disciples, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades." – Luke 10.1-15

Christ warns us that the people of Tyre and Sidon will be judged more easily than we, since we have seen Christ and heard His word, and tasted His flesh. As Orthodox Christians, we can no longer have innocence as our excuse for not responding to God’s desires for us. Enough tantrums. Enough outbursts. We ‘own’ nothing. Everything belongs to God, and we are mere stewards of His gifts.

I meet people constantly who have no cluse the Orthodox Church is a place of refuge for their suffering. They enter our Churches as visitors gasping at the beauty, never realizing they are in the presence of God. I am afraid that soon God will tell the Church, as He told the Apostles in today’s reading, “Wipe the dust off your feet and move on to another people that will respond to God’s invitation.” It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for us in that day.

Fortunately, that day has not yet come, and we will still have time to grow up, and act like the Christians we claim to be. It is time for us to mature into adult Christians, rather than remaining toddlers arguing over trivial matters. It is time for us to go out to every town, for the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. It is time for us to say, “Peace be on this house….the Kingdom of heaven is near this place.” It is what grown up Christians do.

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