Celebrating the Faith
Ever since I was a college freshman, I have been a HUGE advocate of living within a schedule. My day timer was with me at all times. If you wanted to spend time with me, or have me attend a function, it HAD to be on my calendar. By the time I was out of college and working for the Church, my calendar went from being semester-focused to eighteen-month focused. I ‘knew’ or at least knew what I was planned to do for the foreseeable future. One day, my friend caught a glance at the Archdiocese Planner that was on my desk. It was May 25th and he said, “Boy! You Greeks will celebrate anything!”
It was the Feast of the Third Finding of the Precious Head of John the Baptist. That is the feast today, and in many places, there will be a divine liturgy in his honor. I always laugh at this memory, not because of the feast itself, but his reaction. ‘All’ he saw, were the words “finding of the precious head” and thought we Orthodox were crazy. He never considered the joy the Church must have felt when the head was brought back into the Church for veneration. We won’t even mention that this was the THIRD time this had occurred. Back then, relics were objects of theft and piracy.
If we aren’t careful, Orthodox Christianity can be a faith of strict rules and stifling traditions. This happens when we do not allow ourselves the joy of celebrating the faith in times called for joy. Today is one of those days. Other days, like the Sacking of Constantinople which the Church will honor next week on May 29th, are days for reflection on God’s eternal protection and heavenly calling. Whether it is the Finding of the Precious Head of John the Baptist or the Sacking of Constantinople, the Church celebrates Divine Liturgy to remind us of God’s constant love.
I suppose the word ‘celebrate’ is what gets in the way. The better word is ‘commemorate’, but let’s face it. We are happy to celebrate today. The Church was blessed to recover the Precious Head of the “greatest man ever to be born of woman” (see Matthew 11.11) according to Christ. We’ll leave the solemn commemorations for next week.