Run For Our LifeFr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is Born!
As we enter the season of Christmas and celebrate these 12 Days with joy and feasting, let us also remember the Source of our joy. Because if this Source slips from our hearts and minds, it won’t be long until the feasting and the joy is meaningless and therefore empty and missing!
To help us, Orthodox On Purpose will focus more intently the rest of this week on the scripture readings that keep us focused on the Center of our Joy.
And today’s Gospel Lesson gives us a central path to keep our lives centered on the Source of our celebration, if we only will. Our Gospel Lesson reminds us of the “Flight to Egypt” by our Lord and His mother and foster father. They took this trip to Egypt at the urging of a dream given to the beloved Joseph as a warning of Herod’s intent to kill this Child. They become refugees to the terror of power and fear. See the passage in Matthew 2:13-23.
Some may wonder why offer this sad and depressing story the day after we begin our 12 Day celebration. Doesn’t this horrible story of Rachel weeping for her children dampen the happiness of the season? Not if you see with eternal eyes and not merely with the eyes of your own transitory comfort.
In fact, the message of the Enfleshing of God for our salvation sets us free from these temptations to temporary thinking and responding. The message of God becoming one with us and being “Emmanuel” or “God with Us” forever sets us free from the delusions of either mere elation or deep despondency.
And this message does that by offering us the sober and mature vision that allows us to hold an eternal perspective about temporary pain. If God really has come to us and made Himself small enough to be held in the arms of a human mother; if God has, in fact, made Himself weak for our sake; if God has really united our human nature to His divine nature in an act of selfless love so powerful that it destroys death and opens for us the gates of paradise once more; then all human suffering, pain, and failures is swallowed by love and peace. AND we are now empowered by being joined to Him in His act of selfless love to stand with hope in the face of great tragedy and human suffering. AND we are given the spiritual tools to combat the presence of pain and suffering with acts of selfless love like our loving Lord to overcome the source of this pain, fear, and death. WE are made again in His image and participate in His work to be fashioned into His likeness for this very purpose: to extend His victory into every human created “hell” that ever can exists.
And all of this is accomplished by our refusal to look away from pain and suffering and misery. We pull heaven into hell by the miracle of His love for us in becoming one with us. We do as He does: we take joy into sorrow, peace into conflict, and hope into despair by celebrating in the middle of all human suffering the victory of our God over it all by His eternal love.
This is our extension of the first Christmas Gift into our world today.
So, today, Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Glorify Him in the middle of temporary pain. Glorify Him in the face of sadness and sorrow. Glorify Him for His mighty acts to forever banish sadness and wipe away every tear by destroying death for our sake. Make plain the plastic and temporary emptiness of the attacks of the evil one by glorifying Him Who has, for love’s sake, restored the universe. Today, no matter what you face, glorify Him and watch as He extends His love and mercy into your darkest hour. There is always hope because He came and joined Himself to you. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!