The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to Titus. (2:11-15; 3:4-7)
Joy of the Feast to all of you! And our joy is truly filled to the brim today as we celebrate this amazing feast of Theophany, the appearance of the Holy Trinity to mankind. And we are also celebrating one of the most joyous events in the life of the Church, that is the baptisms and chrismations of our newest members. I will not say much but I want to address them today. It is my hope that while I am addressing them, many of you will take these words to heart.
In today’s epistle we hear these glorious words: “The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world; awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds.” So that is what I would call a pretty nice summary of the Christian faith and the Christian life.
These are the things that we do here together as a community, as the body of Christ. We have much to celebrate today as you have been filled with the Holy Spirit and newness of life, and as you prepare to receive the holy body and precious blood of Our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. We have much to celebrate but we cannot forget that this is not the finish line. This is only the beginning. Let this not be another day in your life, but the day that you recommit yourselves to live only for Jesus Christ and what is profitable for your salvation.
One of our great modern saints, St. Nektarius of Aegina, in his book, The Path to Happiness, wrote:
“Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism? Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him? Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbor? Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven? We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle. For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue.” end of quote.
You did not become an Orthodox Christian to magically become holy overnight. You did not become an Orthodox Christian to quit struggling. We are here as Orthodox Christians who ask Christ to bless our struggle and mold us into His image, as we seek to enter into the victory over sin and death that He has already obtained for us through His death and resurrection! It is your victory as an adopted child of God. Stretch out the hands of your heart to Christ and embrace all that He offers you. He will never leave you or abandon you, because God is love and love never ever fails. AMEN.