In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
There are certain things in life that should remain a secret. Then again there are certain things that should be celebrated and put on display. Recently, I was listening to a car insurance ad selling car insurance and potential clients are giving more information then necessary and the narrator kept saying, “Too much information is not always a good thing, we only ask etc.” And this reminded me of a story I had read about a child who had gone out with her mother one day. They had decided to visit a friend of there and the daughter feeling left out of the adult conversation was waiting for her moment to contribute to the discussion. The moment her mother and her friend paused and there was a lull, she loudly proclaimed that “Mommy can take her teeth out and put them in whenever she wants.” Thereby revealing an embarrassing secret of mother’s fake teeth. Truly there are some things in life that should remain a secret.
Often as adults, we keep two types of secrets, 1) something that is embarrassing or hurtful to ourselves or 2) it can hurt someone else. We keep secrets to protect those around us or to protect ourselves. What if someone finds out that I cheated? What if someone finds out that my spouse is struggling with gambling or alcoholism? These are painful secrets that we pray God guides us through. Yet, the truth is there is a secret that many of us, if not all of us at times, we keep in order to not offend others by showing ourselves. A secret that should be a secret in truth.
The truth of our faith in God. How many of us are truthful about our faith around our co-workers, our friends, or even perhaps the rest of our families? I remember me and my friends growing up, we would gather around a bonfire on the beach and play guitar and sing classic rock songs. Naturally at that age, apart from the music and friendship, we hoped to attract some girls. And in that moment, looking back, was I honest about my faith or did I think “don’t talk about Jesus, you’ll scare the girls.” We may say, “No Diratsoo that’s not me. I’m not ashamed or secretive about my faith.”
Okay, but let me ask it in a different way. What are generally accepted as the 2 most taboo topics that we must ignore in all conversations? Politics and Religion. But why? Two of the biggest topics that today because of misunderstandings and misinterpretation cause families to break up, wars to start, etc., we avoid these two? Politics aside, because religion or faith is a taboo topic we each silence God’s voice in our hearts and minds so that we “don’t offend” those who may not think like us. Sadly, if we were to look back at our conversations with each other, those people who come to Church, who are part of our immediate family, apart from Bible Studies, how many of our conversations revolve around our faith in Christ? And this is with people who do think like us, who do come to the same Church.
We shy away from our faiths. St. Paul writes to the Galatians, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Today, we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak. An Armenian feast dedicated to the rediscovery of the relic of the holy cross on Mt. Varak, which had been buried there by Sts. Hripsime and Gayane so that it would not be destroyed by their persecutors. Do we take pride in the Cross of Christ Jesus?
We are afraid to offend others because what if someone finds out I believe in God, yet, we are not afraid of offending God? Imagine if your child denounced you in front of his friends, or a close friend or relative ignored you, because you were not accepted among the others? How would we feel? How can we therefore say we love God, we believe in Christ Jesus and yet, keep him a secret from others? Christ teaches, “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:31-33) Does this mean everywhere you go talk about Jesus? No, not necessarily. There is a time a place for that. But does our lifestyle, do our daily choices, our friendships and our surroundings reflect our faith? Do we gossip about others, look down judgmentally upon someone we disagree with? Do we curse those who curse us? Do we show favoritism? Do we go places that we know in our hearts is wrong, do we stand by and allowing bullying to happen? Do we put ourselves in a position where we willfully silence God in our heart so that we stop feeling bad for the sins we are committing?
My dear brothers and sisters, why are we keeping our faith a secret? Christ teaches us to love, pray and forgive each other like I have done to you. Feed the hungry, pray for your enemy, repent and be proud of your faith. So that when others see us, they look with wonder, what makes us so different, not “Oh you’re a Christian just like all those other ones.” This is how we understand Jesus Christ’s words, “And he said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Lk. 9:23) Do we want to follow Christ fully, asking for God’s blessings in all aspects of our lives? Then the questions remains do we allow God in all aspects of our lives? Faith is not what we do behind closed doors, faith is not what we do on Sunday alone, faith is a seed, planted into the ground, watered with the sacrificial blood of Christ, and strengthened by the love of his resurrection light.
Faith is not a secret. It is a gift that must be put on display not arrogantly, but in love for those around us. Will we be accepted by everyone? No of course not. Will some people be offended? Yes, most likely. But what will we answer when Christ calls us? Because who knows when Christ will call us? “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
My dear brothers and sisters, show your faith. Show glory in the Holy Cross, which has been turned into a tool of life. And God our Father will look upon us and smile, just like every loving parent looks upon their children. For the love of God knows no bounds, for salvation has been given to all through Christ Jesus. And we, the children of God, are the disciples called to bring forth this revelation to all in this darkened world.