Word Magazine September 1977 Page 19
“STUDENTS — YOU ARE OUR LETTER”
By Father James C. Meena
Today we pay tribute to our college students who are returning to the academic world.
My beloved sons and daughters, how shall we send you into the world? In ancient times it was customary that when a clan member sojourned to a strange land, he took with him letters of commendation so that, in the new land, responsible people would receive and recognize him. But we don’t send you into the world with letters of recommendation because, as St. Paul says, “Unlike other people we need no letters of recommendation, because you are yourselves our letters, written in our hearts . . . and it is plain that you are a letter from Christ, drawn up by us and written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on the tablets of your living hearts”. (II Cor. 3:1-3) You are the credentials that we send into the world to bear witness of who and what we are. Those credentials aren’t written by hand, with scroll and ink, but are embossed on the emotions of the faithful. You are our letter of recommendation to the world.
“And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image of that which we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is the Spirit”. (3:18) As we grow brighter by our spirituality, we ourselves are transformed into that which we reflect. Think about that. If we reflect negative things, we are transformed into negative things. If we reflect evil, we are transformed into something evil. Unlike a mirror, which remains passive, we are changed by that which we reflect. If we are mirrors of Christ, then we are transformed into His image.
“I charge you then not to be backwards or embarrassed about your faith. On the contrary, we will have none of the reticence of those who are ashamed, no deceitfulness or watering down of the word of God but the way we commend ourselves to every human being with a conscience is by stating the truth openly in the sight of God, for it is not ourselves we are preaching but Christ
Jesus as the Lord”. (4:2-6)
When you are engaged in dialogue about our faith, remember that we do not express our own opinion, but we reflect the Word of God, based on Orthodox foundations of eternal and absolute truth. If we depend on our own ideas of what truth is then we are basing our attitudes upon the fallible, the shakeable, the unreliable. But if the things that we preach are not of ourselves but are the Word of God, then we are unshakeable.
Just as my parents sent me into the world, just as I have sent my children into the world, so also are you sent out by your parents and your Church to manifest those holy things that you have learned in your Godly households and in these segments of the family of God. “So you are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: ‘Be reconciled to God’ “. (II Cor. 5:20)
It is not sufficient to say, “Yes, I believe that God exists”, and then do nothing about it except to alienate ourselves day after day from the reality that is God. God makes His demands of you now, for He says: “At the favorable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation. I came to your help. Well, now is the favorable time, this is the day of salvation”. (II Cor. 6:2 & Isaiah 49:8)
How is it possible to become Godly, now? “We prove we are God’s servants by our purity, knowledge, patience and kindness, by a spirit of holiness, by a love free from affectation, (free from phoniness), by the word of truth and by the power of God”. And more, by being armed with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left”, not with weapons that destroy but with weapons that uplift and build, “righteousness in the right hand and in the left. Prepared for honor or disgrace, prepared for blame or praise, taken for imposters while we are genuine, obscure yet famous, We will be taken for people having nothing, though we have everything”. (II Cor: 6:6-lO)
You take with you our blessings, our best wishes and, above all, you take with you our name, our history and our reputation. I charge you not to tarnish them but to return them to the next generation, shining like new with the brightness of your own faith and integrity, so that they may receive them in better condition than you did, just as we have tried to give them to you in better condition than we received them.