1 Corinthians 15:20-28

An ancient ossuary (bone box) with the inscription Yeshua bar Yehosef was discovered in 1980 near Jerusalem, leading some to proclaim these to be the bones of “Jesus, son of Joseph”. What does this do to your faith? Pause for a moment for the question to sink in - if evidence was given that identified the bones of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish man sentenced to death by crucifixion on decree of Pontius Pilate (fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea) … would you still be a Christian?

Far too many of us avoid the question, as we don’t like “theology” or are uncomfortable to share our views – everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? We like to avoid discussions on religion and politics, and focus our mental and physical energy on our success, happiness, and fun. Life is too short, and we’d rather use our limited time to live to the fullest. You Only Live Once – YOLO! 

The problem? This was never Christianity. To be a follower of Christ is to believe the Apostolic witness given to us by our forefathers -“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).  Without Easter (the Resurrection of our Lord) there is no Christianity. Stories about the bones of Christ should be dismissed immediately and without a second thought by ALL Christians, as “if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (v.13).

Everything we do, say, and think is centered on this FACT - Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Messiah, and God’s plan for our salvation is complete through His defeat of death. But do we really believe? Do we wake up each morning, as St. Basil encourages, and “nothing ought to be planned or purposed before we have been gladdened by the thought of God"?

St. Paul reminds (v. 20-22) that because He is risen from the dead, we are now alive. Any thought that “you only live once” ignores the gift of eternal life in Communion with our loving Father. We are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). To enjoy eternal life we must believe and become like Him (theosis).

YOLO can only mean “You Only Live Orthodox” - a life centered on Christ, and not ourselves. Salvation begins by entering the Church, but is not immediate any more than standing in the lobby of a hospital heals us when we are sick. There is the constant struggle against what we may want to do if we look at the fruit of this world, but if we deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24) we continue to grow and become more like Him (Matthew 5:48). “A faith which has not overcome doubts and temptation is seldom a real faith” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann) and through our struggles we grow stronger in the Spirit. The Church gives us the discipline of fasting and the healing of the Sacraments to aid in this growth.

We will give an account on how we sanctified the path of life we chose. But, with faith and the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, let us face all adversity with humility, patience, and kindness knowing the eternal love of God that lies ahead.  

Reflection Questions

1. St John Chrysostom’s concludes Homily 39 on 1st Corinthians 15:11-28 (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/220139.htm), by saying - “Knowing therefore these things, let us flee from the evil banquets of luxury and cleave to a spare table; that being of a good habit both of soul and body, we may both practice all virtue, and attain the good things to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.”. In your college setting, what examples of “luxury” and the countering “spare table” can you identify knowing the wisdom of St. John Chrysostom is showing us a way to counter temptation through healthy alternatives?

2. “What are you giving up for Lent?” It is inevitable to hear this question … however, this view of fasting is wrong and not what is intended by the Church. Instead, ask yourself the question - “What are you gaining this Lent?” Hopefully the answer will be “A closer relationship with Christ and restoration of that which has been lost." (based on a reflection from Fr. Evan Armatas of the Greek Orthodox Church)