Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Eve of the Nativity. Fourth Tone
As the fruit of David's seed Mary was registered of old with the Elder Joseph in the little town of Bethlehem, when she conceived with a seedless and pure conception. Behold, the time was come that she should bear her Child, but no place as found within the inn for them; yet the cave proved a delightful place for the pure Lady and Queen of all. For Christ is born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime.
Kontakion Hymn of the Eve of the Nativity. Third Tone
On this say the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to God the Word ineffably, Who was before all the ages. Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On December 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: the contest of the Holy Martyrs of Christos, Menas the Most Eloquent, Hermogenes, and Evgraphos, who suffered martyrdom in Alexandria; Saint Gemellos of Ancyra who was perfected in martyrdom by crucifixion in Edessa; Saint Thomas of Dephurcinus; Holy Hieromartyr Theotecnos, Holy Martyr Marianus, having been stoned, was perfected in martyrdom; Holy Martyr Evgenius, having been beaten with staves, was perfected in martyrdom; Holy Virgin Martyr Efthalia of Merida in Spain, and her fellow Martyr Julia, who suffered in the persecution of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian; Saint John, king of Serbia, and Angelina Brancovich his mother; Saint Joasaph, Bishop of Belgorod; Holy New Hieromartyr Eugraphus the Archpriest and his son Michael the Soldier, who were slain by the atheists in the year of our Lord 1918.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Virgins, Holy Kings, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYRS MENAS, HERMOGENES, AND EUGRAPHUS. Saint Menas, according to the Synaxaristes, had Athens as his homeland. He was a military officer and educated man and skilled in speech, wherefore he was surnameed Kallikelados ("most eloquent"); Saint Eugraphus was his scribe. Both had Christian parents. The Emperor Maximinus (he was the successor of Alexander Severus, and reigned from 235 to 238) sent Saint Menas to Alexandria to employ his eloquence to end a certain strife among the citizens. Saint Menas, having accomplished this, also employed his eloquence to strengthen the Christians in their faith, which when Maximinus heard, he sent Hermogenes, who was an eparch born to unbelievers, to turn Menas away from Christ. But Hermogenes rather came to the Faith of Christ because of the miracles wrought by Saint Menas. Saints, Menas, Eugraphus, and Hermogenes received the crown of martyrdom in the year of our Lord 235 AD.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Timothy 5:22-25; 6:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 21:5-8, 10-11, 20-24
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Let him who wishes to purify his heart keep it constantly aflame through remembrance of the Lord, and let him make this remembrance his sole pursuit and unceasing occupation. For, if we desire to expel the rottenness of evil thoughts and sin from our heart, we should not pray at some times and not at others, but should always apply ourselves to prayer by keeping watch over our mind, even if we do not happen to be near a church." (From Antiochos)
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
God could have chosen a still quicker way. He need not have sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world, but simply have sent down a whole army of His Holy Angels to blow their trumpets the length and breadth of the earth; and men would have fallen to their knees in fear and trembling, recognizing the True God and casting off the worship of idols. But again-where would have been the beauty of human freedom, and the beauty of humble obedience before the Creator? Where the human spirit's understanding? Where love, and where sonship?
The Lord Jesus had to show as clearly as the sun four things, that man, astray and with a darkened mind, had cast into oblivion:
the humble, filial obedience of man towards God,
God;s fatherly love towards men,
the lost, kingly freedom of man and, lastly,
the imperial power of God.
The Lord Jesus showed humble, filial obedience in deciding to be born as a man in the flesh. For the humiliated body of man was, to Him, a cave even more humiliating than that of Bethlehem. Furthermore, He showed his humble obedience by being born in poverty, with none of the necessities of life: into a little known nation, in an even less-known village and of a mother completely unknown to the world. The New Adam (Jesus Christ) had to heal the old Adam of disobedience and pride. The medicine was obedience and humility. This is why the Lord did not appear to the world from proud Rome but from Bethlehem, and not from the self-proclaimed divine House of Augustus but from the repentant and humble House of David.
The fatherly love of God was revealed by the Lord Jesus in His suffering with an for mankind. How would the Lord have been able to show God's love by so much suffering if He had been born in Rome, at Caesar's court? The one who commands and rules by decree considers suffering to be a degradation.
Man's kingly freedom over nature, over his own bodily and emotional nature as over his physical nature in the round, were shown by the Lord Jesus in His long fasts. His fearlessness in the face of all the dangers and discomforts of life, and His divine miracles, by which His total power over nature was revealed.
The Lord Jesus showed God's imperial power over life and death most clearly by His own glorious Resurrection from the tomb.
Had He been born in Rome, as the son of Caesar Augustus, who would have believed in His fasting, in His miracles or in His Resurrection? Would the world not have said that that it was all proclaimed, spread abroad and exaggerated by powerful propaganda and imperial gold?
Finally, it must be said that the humility of the Son of God had its bounds, and these bounds were set by sin. Through such uncleanness (both spiritual, moral and physical) as Rome, and Caesar's court in Rome, presented, God could not have come down to earth. He whose task it was to cleanse humanity from the impurity of sin and be born in purity, innocence and sinlessness.
And so it is clear that the wisdom that God revealed in the Savior's birth-that is, in the choice of nation, tribe, place and mother-is as inexpressibly great as His wisdom at the time of the creation of the world. All that God does, He does, not as a magician but as a householder. He builds slowly, but builds on firm foundations. He sows, and waits for what He has sown to sprout, for it to flower and finally to bear fruit. He patiently endures thousands of defeats within time in order to achieve one Eternal victory.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God