The Sunday After Nativity - sermon by Fr Andrew Gliga
Beloved in the Lord, in our Orthodox faith, we have Saints who have shown forth as examples of how we should live our faith. We have three of them which we commemorate today, Joseph the betrothed, David the King, and James the brother of the Lord, who was one of Joseph's children from an earlier marriage. Not only do we have Saints who lived forth and showed us righteousness, but we also have examples of the opposite; wicked people that live in sin which we should use as an example of what to refrain from. One of those, presented in the Gospel reading today, is the evil King Herod. Herod himself was a man who desired power and position. He had received his crown from the occupying Romans and was not a true heir of the King David. When Herod saw that a prophecy foretold that a King of Israel would be raised up out of Judea, he feared that he would lose his position of power and no longer be king. He had sent the three Magi to find where the Christ child was born in order to have him killed. However, as we see, the Magi had realized Herods wickedness and had gone home another way. In his rage, King Herod ordered the murder of 14,000 children ages two and under in order to preserve his false kingship. Christ and his family had escaped to Egypt and there they found salvation. We see that this story is very similar to that of Moses where the Pharaoh had all the children killed in order to maintain his rule over the Israelites. As we see the Church had always placed importance on human life and the dignity of the human being. The Roman empire had practiced abandoning unwanted children and leaving them to die. When the Church had replaced the pagan religion of the empire, this practice too was also outlawed. Those youngest among us should always be preserved.
All these ancient practices to our modern human society seem extremely barbaric. We in our modern advanced age see all those ancient kings and people as primitive. However, in our modern day and age we are no better than those before us, and even worse than they are! Take for example of what we heard just last week; a famous actress had won an award for some movie she played in. During her acceptance speech, she was thankful for the fact that she was able to choose to abort her child, and that if she hadn't done so, she would not have been able to be a successful actress. What strikes me is how similar this account is to the story of Herod! She chose her career, her comfort, her luxury over the life of her own child. When she said this, all the people present cheered her on for the decision she exercised. This shows that those today not only have no shame in their sin, but are encouraged by those around them. This epidemic of abortion in our society is really troubling. We have 1,058,000 abortions done each year in our country. What makes it even troubling is that the statistics on abortion show that 97% of all abortions are done purely out of convenience, or not wanting a child. This is such a staggering number. It isn't about victims of rape, which constitute less than 0.5% as we so often hear but rather the statistics show that this modern practice is all about maintaining materialistic pleasures.
Life according to the Orthodox Church begins at conception as we see the Prophet John leaped in the womb of Elizabeth, when he sensed Christ in the womb of Mary. The Christ child was not just a couple of cells, but a living person. We, as Orthodox Christians, have to stand by and protect the innocent, even those the smallest in the womb. We should always keep in mind that our faith should affect every aspect of our lives. If it does not, then we are doing something wrong. We cannot sit idly and watch those around us continue to freely choose death over life; this is not what one who loves their neighbor does. In two weeks on January 25th, we have the annual Walk for Life in San Francisco, where us Orthodox Christians, get together with other people and protest this wicked modern practice. We will have a moleben in which we will pray for all those who have been victims of this modern practice. We should try our best to show up to this event in order to offer our voice and support to those around us. This is a peaceful gathering of people in order to try to make a difference and change the hearts and minds of people. By attending we lend our voice in order to protect those innocents; by staying home we show our indifference to this. We should always try to live out our faith to the fullest.