Rector's Message for December 2017
We have entered the holy season of the Nativity Fast, in which we prepare to celebrate the Birth in the Flesh of the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. We usually take for granted that God became a man for us. How often do we ponder deeply what that really means? Do we fully accept that Our Lord experienced everything on earth that we experience, except for sin? Do we grasp the depth of His humility?
Our Father St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (Nikodimos Agioritis) wrote a remarkable essay reflecting on one aspect of Our Lord's humility, which is appropriate to think about at this time of year, when we prepare to celebrate His birth as a little child, and when our thoughts turn to the hidden life in Bethlehem and Nazareth, which He had with His Most Pure Mother and His foster father St. Joseph. Here are some excerpts:
"The Life of Christ: His Obedience to His Parents"
"...Let us think, brethren, about how the Master of all, Whom all that exists obeys, Himself more than all showed obedience to His parents. He obeyed His Most-holy Mother, Who conceived Him of her most pure blood, carried Him in her womb for nine months, and nourished Him with her milk. He must have been absolutely obedient to her, being the true lawgiver of the fifth commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the earth (Exodus 20:12), and again: He that is obedient to the Lord shall be a comfort to his mother (Ecclesiastes 3:6). He likewise obeyed the righteous Joseph, though He did not have to do so, since neither was Joseph His true natural father, nor was the Lord his real son; rather this fatherhood and sonship were figurative, and not actual. Despite this, however, the Lord maintained complete obedience to them both - both to the real mother and to the ostensible father, as though the latter were His true father. Thus, the Evangelist writes that the Lord...was subject unto them (Luke 2:51).
"Jesus submitted to His parents and obeyed them with all zeal, all joy, and all love, and humbled Himself without the slightest protest and without any outward or inner contradiction. Likewise, He was obedient to them not only in what was easy but also in what was difficult and burdensome; not only in things honorable and glorious, but also in things lowly and simple.
"What indescribable condescension! He Who with His voice summons the clouds and to Whom the rain submits with trembling - Him Joseph calls to draw water, and He immediately obeys. He who sends forth the lightning and it immediately goes, is called by His mother to bring wood for the fireplace, and He goes and brings it. He was prepared to obey the will and every request of His parents. He Who said but a single word, and everything came into being, was Himself obedient to every word of His mother and St. Joseph when they told Him to prepare dinner, clean the house, or do some other menial task.
"What do you say, O reader? If the King of the Angels was obedient to His parents, that is, to dust which He Himself created with His own hands, what obedience ought you to render to your own parents? How ought you to honor them, what love ought you to have for them, and with what consideration ought you to behave towards them? Every child must give his parents these four things which we have mentioned: obedience, honor, love, and consideration...
"And you, my brother - how many times have you disobeyed your parents and your spiritual fathers? How many times have you grieved them by your contradictions? Be ashamed, therefore, of being so far from the example given you by Jesus Christ, Who was a model for you in all the virtues. He was likewise a model of obedience, so that you might follow in His footsteps. Repent, ask forgiveness, and entreat Him that He Himself teach you true and perfect obedience. For He, being the Son and Word of God, Who had no need to learn anything, taught us obedience by His example, as says the Apostle Paul: Though He were a son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8)."
Dear Orthodox families, let us during this Holy Fast make our homes into places of the warmth and light of God's Love for us! Forgetting ourselves and our worldly desires, let us strive to live in humility and care for each other, for the love of Christ, Who humbled Himself to be born a little child for our sake, and Who was obedient to His own creatures, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph! Remembering WHY we are celebrating this Holy Season, let us pray the Lord to enable us to keep peace in our hearts and to bring His light to others, Amen.