Believe is a Transitive Verb

Sunday, November 28, 2021
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

Our family loves the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Whenever we return from our annual parish tradition of hosting the Eucharist, we always turn on the telly to see the bright and cheerful floats of popular children’s shows and books drifting larger than life down the streets of Manhattan.

While we do not try to parse a holiday tradition too much, I have to confess a little annoyance at the use of a particular verb in a much too casual way. At the traditional arrival of Santa Claus toward the end of the parade, balloons were launched with the word “Believe”, and it made me wonder out loud. Believe in what? Believe in who? Believe how?

Since the message was being issued by a department store, I have to conclude that the belief is in some way tied to boosting sales in that store’s goods. If people believe in something, perhaps they will buy more. This was partially the theme in that classic holiday movie Miracle on 34th Street when the real Santa made an appearance at the annual parade. But if mere belief in store profit is the only aim of that holiday verb, we are in trouble as a people.

Believe is a transitive verb which means it calls for a direct object. The best and most excellent object of our belief in this Advent should not be material profit, but the Founder of any reason for celebration, the creator of the universe coming to earth and dwelling with us. So in this season, as we anticipate His coming, may our belief find the truest object of our devotion, Emmanuel, God with Us. Blessed Advent to you all! Come Lord Jesus.

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