Sunday, March 29, 2009

Self and Self Sacrifice

I do believe that what we want in life and what is good for us are two different things most of the time. This becomes most evident when we look at self-sacrifice.
During this fasting period I have noticed how negative I can be in viewing sacrifice. I always put it in terms of "giving up" something, or "can't do this or that" etc.
It wasn't until I was re-introduced to the basic things in life, such as breathing, eating, sleeping, speaking and silence that I noticed how sacred they were. The fasting from meaningless breathing, gluttonous eating, over-sleeping, careless speaking and needless entertainment allowed me to see things as they truly were. otherwise how can you be re-introduced to life if you don't first walk away from it for a while.

That is my conclusion I think. Sacrifice is not so much about giving up as walking past it to see from a better vantage point.
However you rationalize it though it is always (and perhaps should always be) a struggle.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve knew the joy of self-sacrifice as the only way to live. They lived in communion with God and the simple act of not eating from a single tree amongst the many delicious trees was not a problem. It was an act of love, trust and prayer to God.

And then the devil lied to Eve. He told her that God was a liar and that disobedience would lead to them becoming gods. They believed him, they decided sacrifice was unfair and so they took and ate. They were led astray and whole heartedly believed that by avoiding self-sacrifice they would be like god, doing what they wanted when they wanted.
And that is when they became naked, they lost the Grace God had clothed them in.

From that day till today, self-sacrifice is difficult, unwanted. It makes us feel less free as persons to "give something up", like we are loosing out. We feel like fools. That is the lie of the devil.

Christ lived His entire life in obedience to God out of love. He did what Adam and Eve did not do. Jesus being God could really do whatever He wanted whenever He wanted, but unlike what the devil says about God, He does not work that way.

When Christ was fasting for 40 days in the desert, He was hungry, then the devil came to tempt Him much like he did with Adam and Eve (though they were not hungry). He said to Jesus, "if you are hungry make these stones into bread and eat". In other words if you are God do this miracle and eat, satisfy the hunger.
Christ healed the sick, restored limbs to the lame, raised the dead, all with a word. Instead in a time of hunger He replies to that great liar," man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."

Christ answers in the way Adam and Eve should have answered. We get to know God through the beauty of His creation but also from the self-control He teaches us in our use of that Creation. It is not only eating that makes us live but not eating as well. What a thought!

May He who, out of love, was obedient even to death on the Cross for our salvation, Christ Jesus grant us peace without end.

Fr. Kosta


  1. Father ... I have an unrelated question: What does Hosanna mean? I've seen it a few times in the Liturgy.


  2. Hosanna is the Hebrew for "save us we pray to you" and "save us now". Over time the word/phrase Hosanna became a word of Praise. This is why in the Liturgy we say Hosanna in the highest.
    Other Hebrew words we use:
    Sabaoth: means hosts or armies and means the Angels.
    Amen: means truly and is used to affirm that we agree with the prayer just spoken/chanted.
    And of course,
    Jesus: means Savior.
    Messiah: Anointed one (Christ in Greek).

    There are probably many others that I can't remember right now. Thanks for the question, it took me in a good new direction in my reading!