(2 Corinthians 4:6-15)
The Apostle Paul, in today’s passage from the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, illustrates for us the great help that the worker of the Gospel receives from God. Our faith that God has given us is a treasure, and strengthens us in our human weakness. In order for the Apostle Paul to demonstrate how weak he feels as a human, he compares himself and all those who preach the Gospel of Christ with ceramic utensils, which break very easily. Despite this frailty, he continues on with Christ who never abandons him in his struggle, and he always succeeds.
According to the Apostle, this weakness of those who work for the Gospel is a benefit. He explains why: If we, who preach the word of God were people of extraordinary power, prominent wisdom, and many other rich attributes, then those who would hear us would think that what we preach comes from us. This is a very dangerous thing for all. Instead, they see that this invaluable spiritual treasure that we offer them, cannot possibly come from us due to our weakness. It all comes from God, and so the faithful understand the great value that the Gospel possesses. As a result, they accept it with no reservations.
We ourselves have nothing important to offer. God shone into our hearts, enlightening us in the face of Jesus Christ to know His glory. We now know the true God. We know the will of God. We know what we should believe in, and how we should live, like children of God. This “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6) is described by the holy Apostle as a “treasure.” A precious treasure!
Truly, we can appreciate this gift of knowledge of the One and Only True God, which the Holy Apostles and their successors have left for us through our Orthodox Church. How many billions of people that live on this planet, do not possess this treasure? They do not know the glory of the True God. Many are those, even today, who “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). They made gods of animals, trees, mountains, or even creations of their own fantasies, which they gave form by creating idols and worshipping them as god. But we were made worthy by God for the True Light to shine in our hearts and so in the end of every liturgy we can gloriously chant: “We have seen the light;...we have found true faith, as we worship the undivided Trinity; for the Trinity has saved us” (Hymn after Holy Communion).
So we as Orthodox Christians possess invaluable riches in our knowledge of the true God, the true faith. But every treasure is in danger of being stolen. That is why we need to guard it vigilantly, with great care so that we do not lose it. The Apostle Paul knew the pain of people close to him being carried away by the world, denying their faith in Christ: “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed” (2 Timothy 4:10). He is writing in deep sorrow to his student Timothy, lamenting the fallen state of this previously valuable partner. The Orthodox Faith cannot be exchanged for anything else. We know that our Holy Martyrs preferred to sacrifice their lives, rather than deny their faith in Christ.
My brothers and sisters, there are many temptations in our times which have as their goal to damage this faith in the face of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. Let us not be influenced or shaken by them. Let us also be assured that our Lord, who gave strength to the Apostle Paul during those tough persecutions he faced, will also strengthen us in always moving forward as victors in our spiritual struggle. Amen.