We are heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7)
There are many striking features to this passage, which is read on Christmas. Although it is the shortest reading in the Orthodox Church year, these four verses summarise the essence of the Christian message: how Christ fundamentally changes our relationship with God from a slave obedient to the Law (before the advent Christ) to the freedom of sonship.
It was God’s plan from the beginning of creation to provide a way to save man. In verse 4, the “fullness of time” refers to the historic significance of Jesus’ birth (God becoming man). Panagia was a central part of this plan, and Jesus’ birth is the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that salvation would come through his seed. In verse 5, we see how Jesus became one of us, born under the Law, to show us the path of salvation. Prior to the Incarnation, the Jews were under the Law. Although the Law prepared the Jews for salvation, it did not actually save. Jesus, as He is revealed in the four Gospels, frees us from the Law and makes us adopted sons of God.
In verse 6, we are told that as sons, God sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we can have an intimate relationship with Him, and call Him “Father.” We can only call God “Father” because of faith in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. As verse 7 makes clear, through our faith in Jesus, we become adopted sons and gods by Grace. In the Divine Liturgy, we pray just prior to, and in preparation for, the Lord’s Prayer: “And make us worthy, Master, that we may with boldness and without condemnation dare to call upon you, the heavenly God, as Father, and say.”
Christmas is a time to consider our relationship with God. This reading contains many important messages that are worthy of meditation all year round.
Source: Lychnos December 2020 – January 2021