Write It On Your Hearts
by V. Rev. Fr. James C. Meena
The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. If you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength, let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart. You shall repeat them to your children and say them over to them whether at rest in your house or, walking abroad, at your lying down or at your rising; you shall fasten them on your hands as a sign and on your forehead as a circlet; you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart" (Deut. 6:6-9).
This commandment from among the many Mosaic commandments is what Jesus called the greatest of all Commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength." Nothing shall take priority over your love for God. This Commandment is necessarily repeated in your ears today because we are about to celebrate that festal day in which God manifested His love for us in such a way that it shattered history. For God came into the world as a human child, took on humanity without divesting Himself of His Divinity. God became man so that you and I, man, might become God. It is essential for us to understand as we have been inundated with the commercialism of this great feast, of the secularization of this great holy day that it is necessary for us to repeat in the ears of our children, the truth about the significance of this Great Feast.
So many of us bemoan the fact that Christmas has become such a commercial holiday We bewail the fact that as we turn on our radios and our television sets, little or nothing is said about the main person in this holiday, Jesus Christ, while so much is said and sung and jingilized about Santa Claus and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and all sorts of nonsensical things that have absolutely nothing to do with the real spirit of Christmas. Rather than bewailing and bemoaning these facts, why don't we approach the problem positively?
God, through Moses, commanded us to love God with everything, every fiber of our being. If we love Him why do we not manifest that love by sharing it with our children? How many of you ever thought how beautiful it would be to spend a few moments in the evening, when the family is together, perhaps before they went to bed or perhaps after supper, reading the Christmas story to your children in its original form from the first chapter of St. Matthew or the third chapter of St. Luke, so that our children might be apprised at an early age that Christmas means Christ and that Christ is Christmas. Then they may be equipped to come to understand, as they grow older and must let go of the fantasies and the fairy tales that they learned as children, that there is something more substantial and more significant to take the place of those fairy tales and that that substantial Being is Jesus Christ Himself and all the Saints of Christmas, St. Nicholas, St. Ignatius, St. Barbara and others. I am not asking that we do any great thing, really. Just to spend a few moments a day together, reading the Christmas story from its original source, the Bible, to our children so that they may grow up to understand who Jesus Christ is.
Let us not allow our children to be like that little boy who, when he had been frustrated by something, shouted the expletive "Jesus Christ" without realizing that the man standing next to him was a minister and the minister asked him, "My boy . . . Do you know what you just said?" He said. ''Yes, I said Jesus Christ." He asked, "Do you know who Jesus Christ is?" He replied, "Yea. . . He's the fellow driving that second truck because the fellow in the first truck called out to him 'Jesus Christ'." To many of us that's who Jesus is. An invective, an expletive.
Our children grow up hearing the name of Jesus Christ as a cuss word or as something we say when we become angry or excited or disappointed. "Jesus Christ!!!" And unless we as parents counterbalance those influences, they will be like that little boy who thinks that Jesus Christ is something you yell at someone else when you're mad at him.
We have a great and rich spiritual heritage and it begins with the Nativity of Christ for us, when actually it precedes that, because the Old Testament is ours as well. But the new era, the Christian era begins with the birth of Jesus Christ. Why should we not make it known to our children? Why should we not write it on our hearts and wear it like a circlet on our brow and write it on the doorposts of our house. Jesus Christ is Lord and King and He is born in this season of the year in order that we might have hope, in order that we might have joy. The Prince of Peace is coming into the world that we might have peace of heart.
Father James C. Meena is a retired priest of our Archdiocese, living in Parma, Ohio.
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America