A Reflection by Rev. Christopher Makiej
The Sunday Victory
A Super Bowl Message
by Fr. Christopher Makiej
When we think about a Sunday victory during this time of year, it is usually a thought about who is going to win the Super Bowl. But I want to declare that as we watch the Super Bowl and view the battle and then the exhilaration of victory of the winning team, let us become even more aware of the greater Sunday victory which takes place every Sunday in the Orthodox Christian Church!
As a priest, when Sunday Liturgy is over and our parishioners are enjoying fellowship during the family hour, when I walk back into the quiet church, reflecting upon what just took place in the Liturgy, with the fragrance of incense still hovering above, like the dust settling after a great battle, I always feel a tremendous sense of victory. I call it the Sunday victory.
I believe Sunday is a victory because on that day nothing else matters; we have put everything aside and we’ve made the decision to come to Church and be with Christ. On that day we defeat the worldly influences of society, and the devil who operates through them, which continuously seek to draw us away from our Church and our Faith, isolating us away from Christ and other believers. And make no mistake, we will surely see these influences in vivid high definition during many of the commercials of the Super Bowl: worldliness, secularism, mega-materialism – all the same things of which the great King Solomon spoke of, who had all the wealth the world had to offer, but summed up his life by saying: “Vanity, vanity, it’s all vanity, emptiness, it’s a bubble that bursts.” ( Book of Ecclesiastes).
Saint Paul talked about the feeling of triumph and victory when he wrote his second letter to the Corinthians (2:14-17), “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in victory in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place……” The commentary in the Orthodox Study Bible says the following about this passage: “The victory is Christ, the captives are the powers of darkness; His fragrance is the apostolic ministry. Christians are the winning forces who triumph through the hearing of the word of God and joining the great procession of thanksgiving leading to life.”
I believe each Sunday to be a victory for us as individuals and families as we gather as the body of Christ, worship Jesus, hear the Gospel of truth, grow in faith, and receive the Body and Blood of Christ, our children are taught the faith, and we all grow closer to one another in faith and in love, becoming the people God has called us to be in this world. And that, my brothers and sisters, is a great victory!
Sunday is a victory because on that day we have stood firm against the wiles of the enemy, and made the effort to attend Liturgy and put ourselves into an environment of faith which blesses, sanctifies and strengthens our lives! However, too many people today, including young parents are spiritually sleeping. Permissive and absentee parenting today has become epidemic. While many modern parents are chasing their own self-fulfillment, their children are being emotionally neglected and morally ravaged through the wireless tentacles of television, computer video games, and corrupt music and entertainment. The result, a desensitized, joyless, selfish, stoic young generation.
But Sunday can turn this defeat into a victory! So many people today are searching for something real because the vanity and emptiness of worldly secularism has left them spiritually bankrupt. What is truly real in our world is Jesus, His Church and the Liturgy of life in which bread and wine become the very real body and blood of Christ. However, the Sunday decision is ours. I truly believe there is a spiritual battle in every Orthodox Christian home every Sunday morning about whether to come to church or not. But it’s our call. God will not force us. To use a football analogy, the coach is calling the play, as the Quarterback we hear it in our headphones: “Go to Church, go to Jesus, bring your children, receive Communion, commit your life to Christ.” Friends, that’s the winning call! But it’s our decision.
Dear brothers and sisters, today, let us make it our commitment to be triumphant in Christ by participating in the Sunday victory every Sunday! We need Jesus. We need to be in Church and in His holy environment of Faith with other believers every Sunday. The mall, the lawn, the home decorating, the Sunday newspaper - everything else in our life should close down on Sunday morning and our total focus should be on Christ. Truly every day is a constant battle to do good and follow Christ, but every Sunday at Church is a great victory from which we can then tap into for strength during the week. Jesus rose from the dead on this day, and there is a power and holiness on this day unlike any other.
Enjoy the Superbowl, and let it remind us of the great victory that awaits us and our families every Sunday. Amen.
Fr. Christopher Makiej is parish priest of Saints Constantine & Helen Church of Andover, MA