BROTHERS AND SISTERS, by faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed by the sword, they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that easily distracts us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
As we are completing the first week of Great Lent, Saint Paul reminds us to hold on to our faith, "looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." Paul says we have myriad of witnesses to this faith, going back all the way to the saints of the Old Testament and through the saints who lived, witness, and suffered for Christ in our time.
And more than that, I would add that we have witnesses of this faith among our ancestors. We are here because they believed. We believe because they persevered. I believe that faith, like some of the physical and psychological traits, is passed down genetically. By believing, worshipping, and living out our faith we continue the great works of those who came before us, as well as pave the way for our descendants.
We often think about what kind of inheritance our children and grandchildren will receive from us. Is inheritance of faith included in what we plan to pass down? Will future generations look back at us and say, "Thank you for showing us the proper way to believe and follow Christ"? Are we setting an example for our children and grandchild and their children for them to consider "the reproach suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures" of the Western civilization?
These are some of the questions to consider during this Lenten journey. The Christian faith we hold is lived out individually, yet each one of us is part of a bigger picture - we continue the witness of those who came before us, and prepare those who will inherit the faith after us.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest