UNBELIEF AS A VICE TO THE VIRTUE OF FAITH – Sermon on Sunday after Nativity by Metropolitan Jonah

(Biblical Reading Ac 6:8-7:5, 47-60, Mt 2:13-23)

From Christmas itself, the next to it Lord’s Sunday is called After Christmas Sunday. And both the above are the appointed readings of the day, throughout the years. A careful study of the two passages indicates that, these continue with the topic of faith, but from the perspective of unbelief, which is the vice or opposite side of the virtue of faith. The passage from Acts is describing how Stephanos the Deacon was killed, being stoned by the Jewish unbelievers. Saul, the afterwards apostle Paul, was one of those unbelievers who killed Stephanos. Also, Herod the king killed many boys who were two years old and the younger, in Bethlehem and its neighborhood, thinking that Christ was included among those who were killed. King Herod was unbeliever and full of envy against Jesus Christ, whom he thought to have come and take away his earthly Kingdom in those regions.

The last Lord’s Sunday, when we learnt about faith (okukkiriza), we said that it is one of the moral virtues, endowed by God in the human beings, to relate them with Him (Gen 1:27) as the only Good (Lk 18:19), aimed at by all actions in their life. That, it is the faculty (power, gear) through which the human person becomes sure of the things we cannot see (Heb 11:1); when the person accepts the truth as truth, and expels the falsehood as falsehood. Such is the basic function of the virtue faith. But there is its reverse side also, the vice of unbelief; when our will expels truth as falsehood and accepts falsehood as truth! The wreckedness of humans all over the world today.

As the virtue of faith serves life, so the vice of unbelief serves death (Gen 3:4-5). Every word (instruction) of virtue comes from God to serve life. Every wrong talk (misguidance) of vice comes from Satan to serve death. These principles help us to understand deeply the message of both the readings of today. For on one side, we see the killing of innocent children, by the soldiers of king Herod, because of his own envy, unbelief and vicious way of existence. Not virtue but vice of falsehood was the common ground of king Herod. On the other side, Stephanos the Deacon was also stoned to death, by people who were unbelievers. Not virtue but vice was the common ground of these people. All the council accepted not truth as truth and falsehood as falsehood, but falsehood as truth and truth as falsehood. They were all wrecked people, Saul too being included, during that time.

Therefore, both the passages of today are calling us, not only to read them, but also to understand from them the moral problem stated by them: That, King Herod together with his soldiers and all the council of Jewish people, were not virtuous actors, were not influenced by Spirit of God, but all were vicious actors under the influence of Satanic misguidance, against the will of God. The outcome of such situation cannot be life in accordance to the will of God, but only death in accordance to the misguidance of Satan our enemy.

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