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The name ‘George’ is an old Greek word meaning ‘farmer.’ It is derived from the Greek word ‘γη’ meaning ‘earth’ or ‘land.’ In English we are familiar with it as ‘geo’ as in geography and geology. Last night, I was struck by the Doxastikon for St. George, which takes advantage of this meaning:

You have lived worthily of your name, O soldier George; for taking the Cross of Christ upon your shoulders, you have cultivated the earth that had had become barren because of diabolic deception; and uprooting the thorny religion of the idols, you have planted the vine of the Orthodox Faith. Wherefore you gush forth healings for the faithful throughout the world, and have proved to be the Trinity’s righteous husbandman. Intercede, we pray, for the peace of the world and the salvation of our souls.

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I just love this metaphor. The image of tilling the barren soil of our collective culture with the Cross and pulling out the weeds of those philosophies and mind-sets that take us away from God is compelling. It challenges all of us to take up our Cross, to live the Christian life full of love and to shine forth the light of Christ in a dark world. We must not allow atheism, secularism or synchretism to stand unchallenged.

When we till the soil of our lives with the Cross, we plant seeds. The Gospel of Christ — Christ is risen from the dead, by death He has tramped death and to those in the tombs He has granted life — has a way of growing within the hearts of everyone who hears it. When we challenge the conventional wisdom that those who believe must be ignorant, or that religion is inferior in every way to science or that one cannot be rational and religious, we soften the soil of the heart and make it easier for the seed to find root.

So, on this, the Feast of St. George the Great Martyr, let us all become farmers for Christ. Amen.