Christ is Risen!
Every morning when we get up, no matter how busy we are or how stressful the upcoming day may be, we all put on clothes before we leave the house. We all put on something appropriate for what we are going to be doing that day. That might be a nice suit or dress for a formal engagement. It might be grubby clothes for mowing the lawn. It might be a swimsuit for the beach. Or uniform for a sports game. Clothes reflect who we are and what we are going to be doing. No one is going to play a football game without shoes or go work in a hospital wearing soccer cleats. No one wears a baseball hat to church, or a tuxedo to the movie theater.
When we were baptized, we put on Christ for the first time. In fact, a beautiful hymn is sung at every baptism, from Galatians 4:27, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This hymn is sung during the Liturgical year at a few of our Divine Liturgies. (In the early years of the Church, baptisms were not done privately as they are now, but were done on a few occasions of the year and many people were baptized at one time. These were “baptismal Liturgies.” We know when they were, because the hymn “All those who have been baptized into Christ”—Osi is Christon in Greek—is sung. And Pascha was one of those days, along with Holy Saturday, Saturday of Lazarus, Pentecost and Christmas). When we were baptized, we were wrapped in a white sheet immediately after coming out of the baptismal font, to symbolize the new life we have in Christ and also the perfect state of our souls in THAT moment, that through Baptism, all sin was wiped clean from us, and in that moment, we were like Christ. Of course, subsequent to that moment, we have all sinned and stained the garment of our souls.
Hearing this hymn on Pascha, especially, reminds us that when we were baptized, we put on Christ. And in the light of His Resurrection, when all things are supposed to begin anew, as we have previously discussed, we return again to this state of being wrapped in Christ that we were in at our baptism.
The hymn reminds us that those who have been baptized have put on Christ. As part of the Christian life, we are to “put on Christ” on a daily basis. Just like we dress each morning appropriate to whatever activity we are going to be doing, we are supposed to put on Christ as well. Because whatever activity we are going to be doing, it is important that we do it with Christ. No matter how busy we get, we don’t ever forget to put on clothes before we go out for the day. Thus, no matter how busy we get, we shouldn’t forget to put on Christ every day. And if Christ is the appropriate “garment” for every activity we do, then in each activity, we should act appropriately, because we are “wearing” Him.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where this hymn has its genesis in verse 3:27, the verse is bookended by two other encouraging verses. In Galatians 3:26, we read that “in Christ Jesus you (we) are all sons (and daughters) of God, through faith.” All of us are, by virtue of being baptized into Christ and putting Him onto us. And because we are all ONE in Christ, verse 3:28 says “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While we may make distinctions among ourselves, some that may even be prejudicial and hurtful, God makes no distinction among those who have put on Christ. We are all His children, as we are all clothed in Christ.
The challenge is to remember that we are clothed in Christ at all times and to act like it. The challenge is also to see Christ in one another, so that we lessen the distinctions and focus on the oneness of those who have put on Christ.
As we get dressed each morning, let’s not forget that we are wearing Christ along with whatever else we are wearing, we will be living in Christ along with whatever activity we are doing. And we put on Christ through prayer, worship, Scripture reading, and charity/service to others. We never forget to get dressed in our clothes for the day. Let us make putting on Christ part of our daily preparation to go out into the world.
Magnify, O my soul, Christ, the Life-giver, Who arose from the tomb on the third day.
Oh! Divine! Oh! Beloved! Oh! Your most sweet voice! You, O Christ, have truly promised, that You would be with us unto the end of all ages. Wherefore, the faithful, rejoice, having Your words as an anchor of hope. (Ninth Ode, Paschal Canon, Trans. by Fr. George Papadeas)
Put on Christ today. “Wear Him” faithfully in all that you do!