Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38, 19:27-30
“Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33) says our Lord.
This warning that Christ uttered does not have the same weight at every time and in every place. This test is extremely difficult for those who pay with their lives for witnessing Christ. It bears much less weight for us who have not been put to such a demanding test. Whether this has led to our increased inertia and spiritual slumber, it is difficult to say. However, we ought never to forget that we have been called to constantly witness our faith every single day of our life. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16) says Christ. So, if we have been spared the difficult tests in life, we should not allow ourselves to fail the easy ones.
What is the measure of everyday witnessing?
The very one that Christ sets for us – that our light ought to shine and that we ought to be recognizable as Christians in that light., by our deeds and our lives. We ought to differ from others by the light we bear and by leading holy lives.
We are witness to the witnessing of others, for example Muslims. The Muslims were able to impose their ideas, to be talked and written about. The majority of Muslims keep their faith and defend it, even though we all know its origins, how it expanded and what it teaches. Countless Muslims are ready to lay down their lives for their faith. They do not permit anyone to mock their faith. There is no joking around with them today.
In this hot, humid and muggy weather, we see their women go covered from head to toe, their faces covered. Even if we have no admiration for this feat, we have to respect their determination.
It is difficult for us to fast for even a day, to set aside a day for the Lord, to sacrifice some of our comfort for the sake of God. What Christian woman could be convinced to sacrifice her natural or made-up beauty and hide it from the world for the sake of her faith? Today, we are not discernible in any way and we certainly do not set an example.
Sacrifices visible from the outside are not what God wants from us anyway. He wants us to witness Him from our souls, on the inside, with our deeds.
Christ said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) The One who at His birth was hailed by the angels singing hymns of peace, the Teacher who sent His disciples on a mission of peace, to take His peace to all ends of the earth and to greet one another with a greeting of peace, the God who calls the peacemakers the sons of God, at one point says that He has not come to bring peace but a sword. How are we to understand this? “The person of our Lord Jesus Christ does not allow compromise with sin. It is as a sword, a two-edged one; it cuts through and separates good from evil down to the last atom.” (St. Father Justin Popovich)
A soul that is thirsty for God is the most valuable thing that God gave us. Anything that separates a person from the Source is an enemy to him. All of our earthly possessions are temporary, just as we are temporary. All of our relationships and friendships are also temporary. We become alienated from them by our destinies, by distance, divisions and conflicts. This happens to the friendships that we believed were unique and eternal. And yet many of these friendships are a thing of the past, forgotten and buried. Why then do we find it so hard to believe Christ’s words when he says “For I have come to set a man against His father, a daughter against her mother.” (Matthew 10:35) and that “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36)
No matter how difficult these words seem to understand, the dilemma is solved. Anyone that separates a person from his or her Creator or Source is his or her enemy. These words instruct us to invest what is temporary and material into the eternal. Our Heavenly Father, the Giver of Life, comes before our earthly parents through whom we were called into this life. We were lent to our parents by our eternal Father, God the Creator, and all of us – parents and children, will one day return to our Father who is before all ages.
Now we are able to understand what we heard in the passage from the Gospel that says, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37) We know that whoever tries to separate children from parents and parents from children certainly does not have good intentions. And whoever tries to place themselves between us and our heavenly Father is not our friend, even if it is our next-of-kin.
God does not want us to put anyone before Him. If we, who are His children, deny Him with our words and actions, if we do not acknowledge Him as our Father, He will not acknowledge us as His children either. If we do not acknowledge Christ as our brother now, He will not recognize us as His brothers before his heavenly Father.
Let us bear this in mind. Let us think about this and let us do as our Father in heaven commands us to do, in order that we may be saved in our true and eternal heavenly Fatherland.