Yakov Smirnoff is a comedian who says, “On my first shopping trip with my friend, I saw milk powder; you just add hot water, and you get milk. Then I saw orange powder; you just add cold water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, ‘What a country, you add water to a tin of powder and get a baby!’”

Smirnoff was joking on a “Comedy Show.” But some televangelists, preach such instant Christian transformation, leading to eternal salvation. According to this belief, when someone surrenders his or her life to Christ and accepts Him as his or her personal God and Savior and confesses his or her sins to Him there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character and he or she becomes a born-again Christian eligible for eternal salvation.

Unfortunately, there is no such Christian powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. They are saved by their faithful and lifelong cooperation with the grace of God given for doing good and avoiding evil and for obeying God’s commandments. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains what his disciples should do: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.

Father Joseph