Confess or Deny

With this posting, I am either a few weeks late or several months early. Its text comes from a portion of St. Matthew’s gospel appointed for All Saints Day (the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Orthodox Church), and I focused on Mt 10: 32 – 33 which reads,

Therefore, whoever shall confess me before men, I also shall confess him before my Father who is in the heavens. But, whoever might deny me before men, I also shall deny him before my Father who is in the heavens.

Homologein is the Greek word for “to confess.” It can also be translated as admit, declare, promise, and even give thanks / praise. Beyond this lexical fact, however, there is a class of saints known as Confessors. These are men and women who did not deny Christ under the conditions of persecution, trial, torture, or any form of adversity. St. Maximus the Confessor is one who comes to mind. But, whether confessor, martyr, or one who died peacefully, all the saints confessed Christ by their holy lives.

In the Great Litany we find this prayer: “For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.” We don’t want a climate of persecution, trouble, or adversity because we may fail. We may deny Christ in these situations. Though we pray that overt trials, persecutions, etc., not come our way, yet small trials, testings, and troubles come our way daily. These trials may come in the setting of family, work, in traffic, in school, or in the marketplace. When such small trials come our way, how do we respond? Do we confess Christ with joy, peace, prayer, blessing, and thanksgiving? If so, this is the response of faith and of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Or, do we respond with anger, cursing, and frustration? If so, this is the result of the corruption that still resides in us.  With such responses we deny Christ.

We always have the power to confess Christ. Christ is in us, and we are in Christ — this is a relational union of God’s presence in us — and this is our salvation. Thus, his Life and Light are to prevail in our lives. Hence, we are to confess Christ with kindness, patience, blessing, peace, and thanksgiving before all who witness these confessions of Christ before mankind and all creation. We are to confess that we too may be saints!
St. Paul writes these words in his first letter to the Thessalonian church:

See that no one repays evil for evil, but always pursue the good both for one another and for all. Rejoice always. Pray constantly. Give thanks in all things. For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes 5: 15 – 18).

To confess Christ is always our goal, and by this Christ is more completely formed within us. Many litanies conclude with these words: “Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us O God, by your grace.” Let this be our prayer in all settings, and let us confess Christ daily.

Below is the corresponding homily.

In Christ,
Fr. Irenaeus