Christmas is coming! The arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God on earth! All of the faithful need to prepare spiritually for this great event, that has an immediate relation to our salvation. Isn’t this what the Angel announced to Joseph? “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It is important that each and every one of us try to personally approach Christ as their Savior and with His grace to be redeemed from their sins. The Apostle Paul, with today’s passage from his Epistle to the Colossians, helps us to identify these major sins and eliminate them. The Apostle of Christ does not hesitate to describe these sins and name them. But what are they?
First, he mentions sins that infect both the body and the soul, such as fornication and with it all related unclean sins of the flesh. The Lord Himself had clearly stated that “adulteries, fornications .... defile a man" (Μatthew 15:19-20). We also see how many terrible diseases, family conflicts and social problems that are related to these reckless relationships. The Christian needs to be very careful not to be seduced by the “modern” spirit of our time, which has overturned moral values and promotes immorality as progress while morality is portrayed as oppression. In order to guard against these unclean passions, the Apostle Paul says we also need to avoid wrongful desires, because that is where the evil starts. The Apostle James further explains: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed· Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). That is why the Lord asks us to control our senses in order not to be tempted with sinful desires; He even goes as far as saying: “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Μatthew 5:28). “
Additionally, there are also many other sins of the soul. One of those mentioned by the Apostle Paul is greed, which he describes as idolatry. The Fathers of our Church further explain that Jesus referred to mammon as a master, and that he who works solely for mammon and worships him as a god of wealth abandons God (see Matthew 6:24). That is why the Apostle Paul urges us “not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous or an idolater..." (1 Corinthians 5:11). The Apostle Paul also identifies anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy and filthy language (Colossians 3:8) as passions of the soul that we need to fight against. We can see how relationships between people, even within the same family, are disturbed by anger and swearing! This anger has even led to acts of violence and murder. Some people do not understand this. They shout, threaten, humiliate, offend others and then, when someone rebukes them, they respond with indifference: “Well, nothing serious happened. It was just words!” Words yes, but as one hurt wife said: “words which destroy.”
Finally, restricting ourselves only to those mentioned above, the Apostle Paul adds: “Do not lie to one another.” Whoever lies mimics the devil, who is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Christ has declared: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). Whoever lies chooses to separate from Christ and becomes a child of the devil. Do not be deceived by the wicked one into believing that lying is innocent. “Since you have put off the old man and his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).
My brothers and sisters, a Saint of our Church, Saint Jerome had a shocking experience while kneeling on a Christmas Night at the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He asked Jesus: ‘What can I offer you my Lord tonight?’
And he heard the voice of Christ replying back to him:
- Jerome, I want your sins. Simply give me your sins!
- My sins? What will you do with my sins my Lord?
- Jesus answered: I want your sins so that I can forgive them, since this is why I came to this world
Here is the best present that Jesus asks from us for His Birthday. To give Him our sins so that he can forgive them. We all know the “how,” so let no one neglect going to their spiritual father, the Priest of God, to confess before the Lord all the things that weight down the soul, so we can be saved and relieved. In this manner, our cleansed souls will be able to feel the presence “of Christ our true God and Savior who was born at the Cave and was laid in the manger for our salvation” and to truly celebrate Christmas. Amen.