The Christmas fast began on Saturday for the Old Calendar and quite coincidentally a neighbor priest friend of mine lent me Fr. Thomas Hopko’s CD set, “Putting Christmas Back into Christ”.
I was listening to a little of it this morning in the car. And he makes the point in his introductory part that if we accept Christ and all that He did for our salvation then all we can do is die with Him daily. The only things we do as Christians is we remember it and expect it.
This is, I was reminded, exactly what the priest prays during the Divine Liturgy right before he lifts the gifts and exclaims Thine own of Thine own, when he says: “Having in remembrance…all those things which have come to pass for us: the cross, the grave, the third day resurrection, the ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious coming.”
And he continues and quotes from Karl Stern’s A Pillar of Fire and says how in the book there was a scene where:
“….Once in a synagogue when he was going through his Orthodox, Jewish period before he became a Catholic Christian …. one of the boys said to the rabbi, “You know, maybe the Messiah did come, maybe we just didn’t know”. And they obviously knew that Christians knew that Jesus was the Messiah – the very Christians who were slaughtering them. [But the rabbi gave a perfect answer. He] … just looked out the window and he said, “No, He didn’t come.” He hasn’t come. And that’s the truth. He hasn’t come. Because when He comes the blind are going to see, and the lame are going to walk, and the deaf are going to hear….Well, look out the window, read the paper, go online. Look in your own heart. Did He come? No, He has not come. But the Christians – and this is all we have folks – what we have is: we know who He is. He’s the One who was crucified.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays, what do we know historically about Jesus….However, there are three things that we know for sure historically, that only a mad person would not affirm that these three things are not historically true. And I like to say that all that matters that these three things are true, historically. … The one is that Jesus really existed. The second one is, that He was put to death in a very vile, violent death….(It’s the one thing that you don’t find in the gnostic gospels. The great difference between the canonical scripture and the gnostic scripture is there’s no Christ crucified in the gnostic scripture. It’s pure new age breeding.) …. And the third historical thing is that there were Jews, definitely Jews, who were convinced, according to the Scriptures, that He was put to death and raised and glorified. And that there’s nothing to do anymore on this earth because history is over. The Messiah has come, but was killed. And He is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God. And all that we do now is: remember it, expect it and die with Him.“