“For we are the (true) circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil 3: 3-8a)
Once again, St. Paul pleads with us not to have “confidence in the flesh,” but in “knowing Christ Jesus” our Lord. What does it mean, to have “confidence in the flesh”? It means focusing solely on the externals of Tradition, passed down to us by those from whom we learned the faith, while disregarding their Author and His Spirit. For example, I may indeed be blessed by having been born into an Orthodox, church-going family, and baptised, and taught to live the beautiful rhythm of feasts and fasts, according to our church-calendar. But I am not to become (self-) confident in these blessings, as if “I” own or “have” salvation, as other “have nots” do not. Even as I am blessed by the wonderful rites and customs of my Church and “tribe,” they are not “worth” anything if they are all about “us” and our identity-politics, and not about “knowing Christ” and His “glory” in our hearts.
So this morning let me pay attention to my heart, and open it up to the Spirit of God. As I thank God for my Church and tribe, I re-focus on His loving Presence among us, that I may be present to Him as He is to us. “Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One!”