by Fr. James C. Meena
Christmas will be upon us soon and I know some of you are thinking, . . . “What, again?” Yes, again! And I pray that you will celebrate many more Christmases to come. I become consciously aware of the fact that our job as Christians is to make ourselves infinitely more aware of the growing chasm between the meaning of Christmas as we understand it as Christians and as society interprets it as a secular holiday. If you don’t believe that we are truly at war with a real enemy, please read the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He points out that we war not against human enemies but against sovereignties and powers who originate the darkness in the world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That’s why we must rely on God’s armor, upon God’s strength in order that we might resist.
I ask you mothers and fathers, if you were in a crowd of people and someone attacked your children would it not be natural for you to stand in their defense. Is there a mother or a father who would not willingly put himself between his children and the danger that threatened those children. St. Paul is saying to you that there are dangers that are threatening you that you do not recognize, something other than automobiles running down the street or rapists or muggers or burglars or murderers, other than things that you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands. There are invisible forces that are constantly assaulting you and constantly assaulting your children.
I was interested in noting in a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor that the use of drugs among young people from religiously oriented homes was considerably less than it was among young people that had little or no religious orientation. And it wasn’t because these young people from religiously oriented homes were square. It’s simply that they were not interested. Some of them may have tried some of the less dangerous drugs and found that it wasn’t for them. They had something more basic, more profound upon which to rest their lives and that was their religious faith.
So why don’t you stand between the danger that assaults your children, the danger that you cannot see but that you know is there, and fortify your children with a whole armor of God in order that they might withstand the assault of the evil one? The only way you can do that is by being proper examples, by loving them and disciplining them as they need love and discipline, by instructing them, by walking before them as a guide walks before the untutored in an unfamiliar forest. Otherwise, your children like so many others will be statistics in a world where statistics are meaningless. They will be numbers in a computer, in a world where computers are becoming god. “And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and then receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword,” (Ephesians; 6:17).
St. Paul sketches a fantastic graphic picture of the warfare, the constant struggle between “us” and “them,” we who are the children of God and they who are the children of Satan. Acknowledge this, and call upon God for help. Make every day God’s day and every day make your life God’s life and He will come into your life, and He will change your life and He will change it every day, not just once, but every time you call upon Him. He will make your life better, a little more meaningful so that the sword of the Spirit then has some value and meaning for you and the helmet of salvation will protect you and shelter you from the assault of the evil one.
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America