Monday, April 18, 2016


Axios! Worthy! An acclamation we hear ringing in the Greek Church when someone is publicly honored. It may be a newly baptised and illuminated Christian, who hears these words after being anointed with holy chrism, been tonsured and the first offering of the hair of the head made, having the cross of Christ fastened around the neck. I cannot remember hearing this acclamation at the baptism of an infant, but of an adult, yes, we hear ‘Axios!’ or ‘Axia!’ depending on the gender of the newly illumined.

We hear it again, ‘Axios!’ at the acceptance of the call of Christ, to whatever special service or ministry, from acolyte and reader, to sub-deacon, deacon, monastic, presbyter, and bishop. It is the people who always acclaim, expressing the approval of Christ Himself, who speaks His prophetic utterances among us and upon us through His people.

He is a strange God, this Christ, who calls a man ‘brother’ even before he has accepted His call; who acclaims a man ‘worthy’ even before he has proven himself in the arena.

As conquering heroes we are welcomed by this strange, man-loving God into the arena, where He has already defeated our every fear, every failure, even our very defeat. We enter the arena that He has prepared for us, if we have faith, confident that there no harm can come to us, no loss can afflict us, nor any shame swallow us up in its mockery.

This is no God who can be denied by even an atheist, if he is a thinking man, because He has not contented Himself to remain invisible and high in the remote or mythical heavens. This God has Himself come down into even the atheist's soul, granting life and reason, unasked and unthanked. He rewards even those who do not honor Him, if they obey His commands, which are written indelibly on the soul, making it human.

Axios! Worthy! The sheep following the path to His right without even knowing His name, because they treated His poverty with mercy.

Axios! Worthy! Those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, though they themselves were weak and lost their battle.

Axios! Worthy! The sons of God who worked for peace, whether or not they knew who is the Prince of Peace, who called them ‘brother’ without their knowledge.

Axios! Worthy! You are called, brother, to a life that you never knew existed, that you never heard tell of, except perhaps in shrouded half-truths passed from one pious mummer to another, stingily grasped and reluctantly bestowed, of whom Christ says, ‘Even what little he has shall be taken away.’ No, but He gives you yourself, worthily into your own hands, with His blessing, to spend in purchasing the field of hidden treasures.

You have only to receive it, to accept His call, to hear the acclamation ‘Axios!’ humbly but gladly, for He has captured your soul and taken you with Him on high, to present you as holy tribute to His Father, the Holy God. He has ransomed your soul from hell before you ever were born, and has restored to you what was lost without your knowing.

Axios! Worthy! The acclamation of the Lamb on His Throne, which He shares with us, seating us next to Himself. Do not refuse to follow, when He calls, for after darkness comes light, unending day after this brief night. He says to you, Receive now the Kingdom that was prepared for you before the foundation of the world. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’

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