November 28, 2021
We now find ourselves ever so slightly over the line passing the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. As I drove around this week from the northern border of Tennessee to snow flurrying fields near Jordanville NY, I noticed Christmas lights already up and glowing into the night, disturbing the ever so consuming darkness. Of course our retailers started the transition into the holiday season at the end of August, pushing the line ever so slightly earlier and earlier each year, but for me it is the homes and their decorations that begin to center my attention on the Nativity and the birth of our salvation.
Well brothers and sisters, so it is too at our cabin on the mountain. My wife loves the season. Our family likes to start to decorate the twelve foot tall Christmas tree at Thanksgiving. Everyone that can be is there and the grandkids like to help! It is a joyful time as we reflect on the birth of Christ as we begin to navigate into the Nativity fast.
With the struggles we have all been through over the past years, it seems as though people want to start this season earlier this year, after all, a love so Divine is greatly sought out and in great demand. And especially in this season we can also find the worst and the best in all of us! For those who get caught up in the pressures of life and the failures of living the American dream of consumption, are too busy to see the wounded and the hungry. With great mercy our Creator sent His Son to tend our wounds and feed our souls. St John of Kronstadt said: “It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward His creation on the part of the Master, Who could not bear to see the entire race of mankind – which, He, in creating, had endowed with wondrous gifts – enslaved by the devil and thus destined for eternal suffering and torment.”(St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ) We were all made in His image but have allowed evil to prosper and choke out the treasured fruit. The fruit of mercy is much needed in this confused nation where evil has been disguised as good and good has been redefined as hate.
How do we Christians act in this world being steered by hate, hate of God and His teachings? St. Basil instructs us: “He who loves his neighbor, fulfills the love he owes to God; for God accepts this love as an act of love offered to Himself. ‘For I hungered and ye gave Me to eat; I thirsted and ye gave Me to drink...[Mt. 25:35]’; and then He goes on to add, ‘insofar as ye did it to one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it to Me.” [Mt. 25:40].’” [Ib., III, 1, in Toal, IV: 39.]
Saint Kyril of Jerusalem reminds us: “Human beings choose their own way of life and are entrusted with the reins of their own intelligence, so as to follow whatever course they wish, either toward the good or toward the contrary. But our original created nature has implanted in it a zealous desire for whatever is good and the will to concern itself with goodness and righteousness. [Eph. 2:10.] For this is what we mean by saying that humanity is in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26], that the creature is naturally disposed to what is good and right.” [Doctrinal Questions and Answers 2, Select Letters, 188, in ACC, VIII:135.]
It is the excitement of the coming season that reminds us of His great mercy. And in that mercy we need to show the sick, the suffering, the hungry, the lost, those afflicted and even the wicked an unquenchable magnetic light, disturbing the darkness, offering hope and love beyond the barriers and limitations we have placed in the way! And empowered from the words of Christ: “Go on thy way, and be thou doing in like manner.” [Lk. 10:37]
Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-28-2021
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