7: You are no longer strangers
This episode offers a meditation on Ephesians 2:19-22; 3:1-7 and the theme of being citizens of the household of God and not of the Devil. Also the life of St, Pelagia along with the other saints of the day.
Household of God
“Brethren you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”. Ephesians 2:19-22, 3:1-7
These opening words of the epistle today beautifully express what each of us has been given. Like myself, some of you come from families that at some point immigrated to the United States. Whether it was your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who left their homeland and came to a new country. And for the first few days or weeks or even months, they were still strangers, getting to know the people, the land, the laws, the culture. But then, they eventually became citizens and made this country their home.
St. Paul uses the same idea to convey our spiritual journey. Human beings were once estranged from God, having lost our original home with God in the Garden of Eden, we were strangers and sojourners, wanderers until we found the promised land, and that promised land was Christ and his Church, and we were received, welcomed by Christ himself, and through our baptism he made us citizens of his kingdom, together with all the saints, being one household, one family of God.
But having entered our divine home with Christ, the Devil relentlessly tries to call us back out, he tempts us to give up our home, our true identity and once again go wandering in the darkness with him, a journey that only leads to despair and nothingness. He constantly tries to make us forget who we are and what we have received. He does this by making us not take our identity as children of God seriously. It’s just a nice metaphor. Just a nice religious idea. And we fail to actually live it. Or he makes us think we’re undeserving of this identity because of our mistakes and sins. Or he makes us hyper-focus on some other identity, like our ethnicity or political affiliation or even our profession. Either way, we end up disregarding or even forgetting our true identity as members of the household of God. We end up not living everyday in a way that reflects this reality. We instead live in another reality and the Devil tries to get us to only think about our earthly home, our earthly pleasures, only our immediate family members and relatives, only our friends, and we create a kind of distance between ourselves and our heavenly family and God and other people in this world.
This deception of the Devil is relentless. There’s only one way to snap out of it and reject it every day as well. And that is to give thanks to God for all things, and acknowledge him as the giver of all things, that he is everywhere present and sees everything. That all things belong to him and he has made you a steward of his gifts. Give thanks to God for your life, for your country, for your material blessings, for your talents, for your family members and relatives and friends, for your freedom, for your parish, for the saints, for your Orthodox Faith and that you belong to the family of God. In this way, you become a solid person, loyal to your true identity that you received at your baptism. You live as someone who is not double-minded, someone who is not two-faced, someone who is not divided and separated from God but rather united with him. As Christians, we try to live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven while here on earth. We are called to be the light of the world. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ. Through us, God’s heavenly kingdom is made present on earth. That is why we pray: Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. That earth is my own body, my mind, my heart, my soul.