In today’s Epistle reading from Galatians, St. Paul the Apostle traces for us the path from being mere servants, to our becoming children of God.
When we examine how people lived before Christ, their sad state can be clearly seen. Since the Fall, the Devil roamed the world, gaining advantage over people. Their condition was one of spiritual enslavement. Not only the Idol worshippers, but the people of Israel themselves also lived in this bondage. Despite all that God had done for them, they were still not living by the Law. Because of their distance from God, they felt the Law as a burden and yoke.
It is from this condition of destitution that Christ came to liberate us. Our faith in Christ as the Messiah sets us free, as we are saved as sons of God. That is why St. Paul proclaims to the Christians of Galatia: “After Christ has come, we are no longer under a tutor; and this because as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-27). The Apostle speaks of Jesus humbling Himself “and was born of a woman under the law so that we might receive the adoption as sons of God” (verses 4 and 5).
My brothers and sisters, do we realize what a great honor that God the Father has given us, by elevating us to becoming His children- God’s children? Not merely the children of wealth or a ruler surrounded by worldly glory, but children of “the King of all” (as God is called in the Cherubic Hymn of the Divine Liturgy). He made us princes and princesses in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven itself!
Are we worthy of this supreme honor? There are parents who are quick to shun their children or in the case of riches, disinherit them if the child makes them angry or disobeys them. How different that is from God! Even though we are sinners, when we seek refuge in Him with repentance and faith, He overlooks everything and forgives everything. He adopts us, and as St. Paul writes: “we might receive the adoption as sons” (verse 5).
We know that our Lord Jesus Christ, “the only begotten Son of God … of one essence with the Father” and Who “… came down from heaven and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man,” as we confess in the Creed, is One and unique. And yet, God the Father, “with the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7), offers us this gift of “adoption.” In making us His children, He unites us with Christ as brothers and sisters: “even when we were dead in trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ Jesus” and, even more amazingly, “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 2:5-6).
St. John Chrysostom is astounded by the immensity of this honor, and the amazing height to which God the Father raises humanity! In the Anaphora prayer during the Divine Liturgy, after referring with gratitude to God’s blessings to us, he concludes with the words “… until You brought us up to heaven and bestowed on us Your Kingdom to come.” St. Paul the Apostle is clear on this point: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). If we truly understood, that we are HEIRS to the Kingdom of God itself, it would make us dizzy. Can we even begin to grasp the enormity of this gift?
Having received such an amazing blessing, let us try to behave as true children of God, by living our lives according to His will. Let us maintain as the model in our life the first-born of all creation, Our Lord Jesus Christ and brother, so that we may prove ourselves worthy to inherit with Him “what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9). Amen.