Matthew 10:32-33 New King James Version (NKJV) Confess Christ Before Men
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?”
28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother [a]or wife or children or [b]lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Do you have a favourite Hymn? I am sure most of us do. I also have hymns that I struggle with. One such hymn for me is “Onward Christian Soldiers”. It is not so much the hymn itself but more to do with my inability to connect with the ‘Soldier’ concept. The thought of being a soldier ‘marching off to war’ just doesn’t work for me. However, I have for many years thought that I would very much like to be Samurai for Our Lord!
Well a significant part of the appeal is Bushido. This was the code of conduct for Japan's warrior classes from perhaps as early as the eighth century through modern times. The principles of bushido emphasized honour, courage, skill in the martial arts, and loyalty to a warrior's master (daimyo) above all else. Loyalty and honour to a master; is this not what is required if we are to confess Christ, if we are to love Christ before father or mother …
The katana sword was first adopted as a Samurai blade in the late 13th century. Since then, katanas have become an iconic symbol of the Japanese Samurai tradition. Interestingly, if we look at the omitted verse 34 from our gospel reading our Lord says;
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
The sword of Christ is of course the truth; The Truth about who He is as God and the truth about how to follow Him as Lord.
A sword has a sharp blade for cutting and to be effective, must be wielded skilfully.
It is crucial to ensure that what needs to be cut is cut swiftly and accurately. This is true for both the Samurai Katana and sword of Christ.
A Samurai must study and work hard to be a skilled swordsman. One cannot just walk off the street, pick up a scalpel, call oneself a surgeon and begin operating. Rather, a surgeon is highly educated and trained, with many years of study and practice.
These same principles are required of us if we are to use the sword of Christ be it to defeat an enemy, like a Samurai, or remove unnecessary or diseased parts, like a surgeon. A Samurai’s commitment to his vocation must be absolute. Would one expect a person to qualify as a surgeon if attendance at medical school was hit and miss, if attendance at lectures was infrequent or if the student arrived halfway through or near the end of the lectures? Or what if study books were rarely opened and studied at home? What if the student decided to do some other activity, when it was time to watch/help the attending surgeon?
We each need to become skilled in cutting out the unnecessary and sinful parts of your life. In today’s Epistle reading (Hebrews 11:33 – 12:2), it says we must “Lay aside every weight and sin.” (v.12:1). Sin is like a spiritual cancer that needs to be cut out and excised. Because, unless it is removed, it will continue grow until it takes over and destroys the soul. When we know how to use the sword, we can effectively eliminate self-serving habits from our life. We can identify and prioritise that which is most important for our life.
How can we possibly ‘confess Christ before Men’ if we rarely/irregularly attend His school—the Church? When we come late to class—the Divine Liturgy? When we rarely open His textbook—the Bible? As followers of Christ we too must be educated and trained in the ways of God before we can skilfully wield the sword of Truth.
Like for many children, this is a time for home education. But soon we will again be free to join together for worship, to attend the vigil, to serve the liturgy. May we do all do this with joy and a new commitment of loyalty and honour to our master, skilfully using the sword of Christ knowing that “whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven”
“Through the prayers of all our holy fathers,
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on us”
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others