A CHALLENGE TO AGNOSTICS
(Tuesday, December 26)
“Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone to the world the Light of knowledge; for by it, those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to adore You, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You, the Dayspring from on High. O Lord, glory to You!” (Troparion/Apolytikion of Nativity)
We celebrate on Christmas not only the One born in Bethlehem, but our human capacity to “know” Him. This challenges those of us who describe ourselves as “agnostic,” (that is, the belief that God *may* exist, but human beings *may not* know Him); for whom it’s easier to believe in God than in the human being. I mean, in the dignifying, human capacity for knowledge, particularly of such an important thing as that of God.
But the above-quoted hymn proclaims that human paths to knowledge, also deficient ones like “worshipping the stars,” can and do lead to knowing God, when human beings remain teachable. The Magi honestly and earnestly followed where their quest for more knowledge led them, even when this entailed a difficult and dangerous journey to a foreign country. This placed them at odds with a certain tyrant of their day, Herod, because tyrants cannot tolerate the dignifying, free pursuit of knowledge among human beings in their realm.
But God can do for us what we can’t do for ourselves, like reveal His invisible presence through the visible world, when we remain teachable. To remain teachable, I need to take care of myself; of my capacity to see clearly. The obstacles to seeing clearly can be physical and spiritual. The physical ones are unhealthy eating, drinking, and sleeping habits, while the spiritual ones are resentments, self-centered fears, anger, codependency, and other forms of self-inflicted bondage that arise in the heart and obscure my human dignity.
Let me take care of myself today, of my body and my heart, taking dignifying action to maintain my human dignity and capacity for “Theoptia,” or “seeing God.” Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, our Lord promises us this morning. Help us, Lord, to help ourselves clear our hearts and bodies of burdensome obstacles to knowledge, that we may know the new freedom and new happiness You have on offer. O Lord, glory to You!