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2013-01-20 message

posted Jan 24, 2013, 7:19 PM by St. John's Webmaster

We read from the St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that, “our old self was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6-7). The idea of slavery to sin is frightful. We like to think of ourselves as being free. For the United States, the idea of freedom seems to be foundational to the understanding of the country. However, while the idea of freedom is thrown about at every turn, the meaning of freedom sees much less debate.

St. Paul tells us that Christ died to sin and lives to God and that we, through baptism into Christ’s death, must also consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). The ultimate freedom, thus, which is the freedom of eternal life in the kingdom, is not a freedom to, but a freedom from. This is the Christian understanding of freedom and we can see already that it is not an understanding that is shared by most of the participants in the social and political debates about freedom.

This is an important thing to stress and understand today, on this Sanctity of Life Sunday, a day when the Orthodox priests of the mid-West have been asked to offer a prayer for the sanctity of life. This is one of the main issues where freedom is misinterpreted, where we are asked to recognize sin as a right, whether it be in the killing of an unborn child, the aiding of suicide, or the imposition of the death penalty (thankfully, not an issue in Iowa). Our Christian faith and 2000 years of Christian teaching are clear: these are sins and if a Christian calls them by any other name, he is betraying his faith.

That being said, we cannot approach this issue in a vacuum. This means that we need to understand the situations of those who are tempted to act against the sanctity of life.  It means that we need to offer Christ’s love to those around us even if they have committed the worst of sins. And it means that we may need to offer concrete help so that the immediate allure of sin is removed. It is only then that we may be able to bring the true meaning of freedom into the lives of those who have not known it before.

This may well take us outside of our comfort zone. This may well be expected in Christianity. C.S. Lewis famously said that “If you want religion to make you really comfortable, I certainly do not recommend Christianity” and it certainly is true. Christianity is almost by definition not comfortable, as it forces us to make God the standard for our lives (“Be holy as I am holy). It is, however, true, and good, and holy, and the surest path to the kingdom of heaven.

May our Lord grant our country the wisdom to respect the sanctity of life and may He grant us the strength to follow Him and remain faithful to Him and His Church.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter