As we continue to celebrate Christmas, we hear this day of the Feast of St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist. We know him as the fourth Evangelist, having written the fourth gospel. We also know him as the youngest of the disciples and even that he did not die like the other 11, but got to live to an old age.
And what we hear tonight, from this blessed Apostle, is the command to follow Jesus. Jesus says this three times in this gospel reading and the funny part is Sts. Peter and John were already following Him, but Jesus makes the point here that constant repentance and conversion is needed for the Christian.
So what does it look like for you today to “follow” Jesus? Well, we have talked about this before and have concluded that it is not enough just to ape Jesus, we must literally follow Him; see where He goes; see what He does and why He does it. One of the told the Church uses for such an endeavor is the Lectionary.
A lection is a reading of texts and in our case, it is a collection of texts which we cycle through each year. Along with this yearly Lectionary come traditions, ceremonies, and ways of celebrating each certain time.
Christmas and Easter, being easy to see. Advent and Lent, the next easiest with candles, extra services, and a darker tone to the readings. In this, the Church employs every sense of the Christian: sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste in order to follow Jesus through His life and see how He will accomplish salvation for us.
This Lectionary has been carefully created, reformed, and handed down through the centuries to finally get to you. The readings which you hear and the way they are presented has been found to be the best way to get the message across.
With this kind of importance attached to it, it is no wonder that it becomes are target of Satan, for at no other time of the year than at Christmas do you hear the words: saturnalia, sol invictus, Mithras, or Horus so often.
These arte just a few of the “old” pagan holy days that unbelievers accuse Christianity of taking over and converting to Christina holidays and Christmas is no exception. It is said that Dec. 25 is not really the date of Christ’s birth, but was the celebrations of these other gods proving two things: 1) if you’re a real Christian you shouldn’t celebrate and 2) because Christianity copies these, Christianity is false.
Even though this is used against the Church, the world knows about ceremony and celebration. It even knows about lectionaries, because it has its own, but it is not original. The lectionary of the world is a corruption of church’s and thus is a rhythm of natural things.
Satan gladly uses any and everything to distract you from the Son of God. If there is something better to celebrate on any given Sunday, it is there in your head and it keeps you away instead of here. Because, here is just the same old stuff that has nothing to do with my life.
You demand lectionaries. You demand that the surgeon have a manual and knows what he’s doing each time you visit. You demand that the doctor understand medicine and how best to treat you, every time. You demand that your clothes fit, that your food nourishes, and that your brain works to understand it all. And the Church lectionary is a burden?!
Come, let us reason together. If Jesus handed over the Church to you and told you to feed His flock, how would you go about it? Would you just do whatever anyone wanted to do each day? Would you allow any and everything that is popular, at the moment, to be let inside? What about after that gets old, then what?
The Church is unhelpful and unproductive without a lectionary. The Church becomes a prostitute of the culture when she has no culture of her own. The Church becomes a liar, a salesman, and a swindler when the Truth is not in her.
Jesus tells us to follow Him and yet all He gives us is Sts. Peter and John. No one is waiting for us in
Bethlehem. No one is waiting in dark Gethsemane
or light Gethsemane. There is no cross on Golgotha and I’m sure the empty tomb has long since
Christmass-time gives us the answer. Since time began God has continued to work the same way towards salvation. He handed over all things to Adam and gave him instructions. He left all 8 remaining people on the earth in the hands of Noah. Jesus gave responsibility of the entire population of the Church to one old man, Abraham, through his one and only son, Isaac.
The Lord continues to work through men throughout history. Jesus does not simply interact with these men spiritually. The way they knew and the way everyone else knew that the Lord was there was by His Word, for either it came true then and was written down, or it came true later.
The written Word now comes directly from the mouth of God Himself, In Christ. God loves the lectionary because He wrote it. It is not about teaching you how to be a good person or invoking feelings of nostalgia, it is about Jesus and His work done for you.
This is what happens in the Church: it has the entirety of holy Scripture, as you do today in the Bible. It has plenty of time,, because whether Christ comes back today or many todays from now, it doesn’t matter for she has been made ready already. So, she takes her time, goes through each major event leading up to the Resurrection and what comes out is the lectionary.
It is a natural progression from having the Word of God to following Jesus and the Lectionary allows you fulfill this command. For in the Lectionary we do just that. We follow Jesus, not to the exclusion of every other part of the Bible, but to its fullest expression.
It is only in Jesus that we conclude that human and earthly things are holy, for Jesus came as a man, forever sanctifying humanity and earthly things. God did not create all things just to leave them behind and neither did He give all things to us only to have them turn into lies.
Jesus sets us in the fortress of His true Body, giving us a right spirit, in order to hear His Word and believe it, even if we were only to celebrate Christmass every Sunday of the year, we would still hear the entire counsel of God.
But the Lord, and we, are more creative than that. Plus, we love to hear as much of what Christ is doing as possible. God loves pure doctrine and the only way to that is through the Word. Simply by believing in and loving the Word, the Church already keeps out so many lies and false teachings that it would be impossible to list them all.
In being made man, Jesus gives us more than simply a wonderful and heart-touching story about Himself. He gives us Christmass and He gives us
both of which, take all of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, and feed it
to us, repeatedly. For St. John has taken us
on the wings of an eagle, in his gospel, shown us the beginning and the end;
the alpha and the omega.
Through men, even becoming a man Himself, God has spoken to us of His Son Who was conceived, born on Christmass which we await through Advent, reveals Himself as the God-man in Epiphany, suffers for us in Lent, dies on Good Friday, rises again on Easter and ascends into heaven. He gives us His Holy Spirit on Pentecost and governs and keeps the true Faith in His one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church on earth, during Trinity, to which He will come again as our judge.