by Fr. Dmitri, New Zealand
Saturday 3 January 2009 (25 Koiahk; 25 Kiahk)
Forefeast of the Nativity.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4)
As Mary gave birth to your Lord, the Church gave birth to you, The Church is
your Mother and nurtures you. The Church is Mother of many nations that
represent one Body. The Holy Virgin is the Mother of the One.
(St. Augustine of Hippo)
He who does not love his brother, should not think he is a child of God. And
when we look at our iniquities, we should remember that love covers over a
multitude of sins.
Whoever wishes to see God must try to purify his heart by constantly
thinking of God.
(The Elder John Saba)
And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her."
O Inexpressible mystery and unheard of paradox; the Invisible is seen; the
Intangible is touched; the Eternal Word becomes accessible to our speech;
the Timeless enters into time; The Son of God becomes the Son of Man.
(Gregory of Nyssa)
If the day of our soul does not turn to evening and become dark, no thieves
will come then to rob or slay or ruin our soul.
The Unceasing prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ, is but the offering of
the heart to Christ.
You are children of eternity, your immortal crown awaits you, and the best
of Fathers waits there to reward your duty and love. You may indeed sow here
in tears, but you may be sure to reap in joy.
Heavenly Father, thank You for making us children of eternity. Help us to
live each day in such a way that we may deserve to be children of Yours
(Elizabeth Ann Seton)
THE PROCLAMATION OF JOHN
Isaiah had spoken of John when he said: He is a voice in the wilderness:
'Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for Him!'
Like the first Christian Preachers Luke saw the real beginning of the Gospel
in the appearance of John the Baptist, often called the Forerunner of
Christ. (see Acts10:37). The Ministry of John marked the end of an old era
and a beginning of a new era. Remember Elizabeth's reply to Mary's
salutation , the Babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the
Holy Ghost: and spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou
among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
He was not only the fulfiller of prophecy but also the last of the prophets,
and is described as a prophet.(Jer.1:1) His coming was the fulfillment of
Isaiah 40:3-5, a text which the Qumran Sect also saw fulfilled in their
activities, and his task was to proclaim a baptism which pledged forgiveness
of sins. This proclamation is expanded in three sections:
1. John warns the people it is no use being baptized without a true
repentance. A mere claim to physical descent from Abraham was no defense
against imminent judgement. The axe was poised to chop down unfruitful
trees. So bloodlines could not be depended on.
2. People must practise love and generosity as opposed to the works of the
Law. There must be honesty among those in high places. These moral
principles will lead to a transformation of society from within, rather than
by a bloody revolution. Would that this be true today of those in high
3. Many asked John if he was the Messiah. He knew his subordinate role. A
mightier one would follow him. John cleansed people ceremonially with the
sacramental symbol of water, but the coming One would cleanse men's hearts
with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He would carry through a great separation
among men, like a harvester, preserving the wheat and destroying the chaff.
Let men repent without delay, the coming of John meant that the coming of
Jesus was near. But before His arrival is described, the story is rounded
off with the story of John's arrest, (Mark 6:17-29). But prior to the arrest
is the Story of Our Lord's Baptism which is an example for us to follow and
was the Seal for His Ministry. Even from Prison John asks whether the Jesus
is the expected one, he seems to have had a memory lapse to what took place
at the Baptism of Jesus. He knew then and often referred to Jesus as the
Lamb of God.
The stage is now clear for Jesus. John decreases and Christ increases. Many
have asked why could not Jesus have saved John. I look at it like this. If
John had still been active, then Jesus' Mission would have been
overshadowed and not able to proceed until John had left the scene. "Has
Christ cleansed your hearts?"
To Thee be Glory and Praise, now and ever, unto Ages of Ages.
Evening: Psalm 32:6&11; Gospel Luke 22:24-30.
Morning: Psalm 33:1 & 12; Gospel Matt.25:14-23.
Liturgy: Heb.13:7-25; 1 Peter 5:1-14; Acts 15:12-21;
Psalm 132:9-12; Gospel Mark 9:33-41.
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