Christopher stated: "Had I borne the whole world on my back, I would not have outweighed you."
And the Child responded:
"Marvel not for you have borne upon your back the world and Him Who created it!"
As Stewards of the Christian Orthodox Faith, we must strive to insure that our actions support our words of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is ultimately the concept of Stewardship or service to God and His earthly vessel of salvation, the Church. We offer our Time, Talents, and Treasure because it is the natural response of our love for and our faith in Christ Jesus. Writing in the twentieth century, St. John of Kronstadt explains: "Love for God begins to manifest itself, and to act in us, when we begin to love our neighbor as ourselves, and not to spare ourselves or anything belonging to us for him, as he is the image of God: ‘For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen’."
The story of St. Christopher is well known. It is about a Roman soldier who lived in the third century. This was a time of great unrest and persecution for those who believed in Jesus Christ. Christopher could not see the reason for persecuting these innocent people and spoke out against such cruelties by resigning from the Roman army. Inspired by the love and faith that motivated the Christian people, he enthusiastically accepted Christ and was baptized.
There is a story about this saint that describes his method of offering Christian charity. It is said that he would carry travelers across a river on his back. One day, he happened to carry a young boy across the river. Halfway across, the weight of the child became overpowering and Christopher stated: "Had I borne the whole world on my back, I would not have outweighed you." To this the Child responded: "Marvel not for you have borne upon your back the world and Him Who created it!"
This encounter with the Christ Child expresses the gift of love in which St. Christopher was determined to offer. For this reason, many icons depict the saint carrying our Lord on his shoulders. This is a powerful message of Christian Orthodox Stewardship. Imagine, placing upon our very own shoulders, the One who not only created the world, but also takes away the sins of the world! And yet, this is exactly what our participation in Christian Stewardship requires. We, too, are to become a Christopher — a steward who "bears Christ" in the heart, the mind, and the soul!
For his Christian beliefs, St. Christopher was eventually arrested by his former comrades in arms. While they traveled back to Rome for his trial, the saint ceased the opportunity and spoke to the soldiers of God’s love for all humankind. Moved by the words of Christopher, the soldiers accepted Christ and were baptized. When this happened, the soldiers did not want to carry out their mission, but Christopher insisted that they must continue as instructed and turn him over to the Roman authorities. Once in Rome, he was tried, convicted, and beheaded on May 9.
The martyred saints of the first three centuries of the Church shed their blood for the foundation of our Christian Orthodox Church. In studying their lives we realize that the true Christian is the person who is marked by the offerings of compassion, charity, and love to all people. The Early Church Fathers were well aware that to become a faithful member of Christ’s Church meant to live the Faith by being an active participant in Christ’s teachings. St. Christopher did so by enthusiastically sharing his love for Christ with others and by the simple, yet meaningful act of carrying people across a river on his shoulders. His example poses an important question to today’s Christian Orthodox Steward:
How will YOU express your faith in Jesus Christ?
To learn more about the stewardship of the saints, click here.