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Devotional thoughts for the sunday after Christmas.St.Mathew2:1-12

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  • Fr.T.George
    Devotional Thoughts for the first Sunday after Christmas: St.Mathew 2: 1-12. Dearly beloved in Christ, The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was an epoch
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2007
      Devotional Thoughts for the first Sunday after Christmas: St.Mathew
      2: 1-12.

      Dearly beloved in Christ,

      The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was an epoch making chapter in the history of mankind. It happened to be the appearance of
      spiritual truth which shed light to the whole world. Jesus Christ
      came to this world as an embodiment of divine light that enlightens all those who fumble in darkness of evil. He came as the love that eradicates hatred and the energy that enables people to live a better life (St.John 1:9).

      In the gospel of Mathew 2, we read of the journey of Magi to Bethlehem. Tradition holds that the wise men from East were three
      in number known by the names as Melchoir, Casper, and Balthazar and
      they were from Persia, Egypt and India. The legends related to the
      ancient church - St.Mary's Syrian Orthodox Valiyapally at Piravom
      near Cochin -also known as `Rajakkanmarudepally' shed light into the
      relation of Magi with India. They were astrologers who had the
      special skill of discerning the signs and changes in the
      constellation. God- the all knowing- set a silver star for guiding
      them to Jesus Christ- the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2, Mathew
      13:43) Light of Light, very God of very God (John 1:4, 5:18, 12:35-
      37 1 John 1; 5-7). Every science including astrology leads us to the
      real living God.

      The birth of Christ happened in a time when people all over the
      world were awaiting a saviour who was capable of saving them from
      the clutches of Satan- from the bondage of sin (StLuke2:25-38). The
      Brigadaranyakopanisad 1:3:28 reads thus: "Asathoma Sat Gamaya,
      Thamsoma Jyothirgamaya, Mrithyoma Amritham Gamaya" (Kindly lead us
      from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to
      immortality).It is obvious from this celebrated prayer that our
      forefathers in the far east-India- also had been looking forward for
      some one who is capable of leading them from darkness to light, from
      untruth to truth, and from death to immortality. Therefore, Christ
      and Christmas in a way are relevant to the people of Hindustan as
      well. Christ and Christmas are not limited to Christians alone but
      the joy of Christmas and the salvation of Christ are extended to
      people all over the world. The angel of God proclaimed this
      universality when he announced the birth of Jesus to the
      shepherds "Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news
      (Gospel) of great joy for all the people ; to you is born this day in the city of David a saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord(St.Luke 2:10-11).

      Therefore, Christmas- which is the celebration of the birth of Christ- is a journey in search of light, a journey in search of truth, a journey in search of immortality, a journey in search of a living God who is worthy to be worshipped. It is a festival of light and its radiance is not confined to any particular day or a particular area but sustains to everywhere and for everyday. This is why we celebrate Christmas every year. The quest of the Magi was to find a person who is worthy to be worshipped. Their purpose of journey was to offer a true worship to the living God. It is clear from their words as said in Mat 2:2, "We have come to worship Him". It was a God- oriented journey for the realisation of their lives' goal. They must have taken much pain and strain in reaching the infant Jesus who was full man and full God. It is to be remembered that they made all their way down to Bethlehem at a time when the means of transportation and technology was not so advanced as of today.

      We see that they brought very precious gifts for Jesus. Gold,
      Myrrh and Frankincense; all represented Christ's three fold
      ministries – a three essential commodities relative of three
      ministries such as Royal hood, Priesthood, and Godhood. Gold, a
      royal element, offered to him was to indicate his royal hood (Psalms
      45:9-14, St.Luke 1:33). Frankincense, an element used in religious
      rituals, was indicative of his priesthood. Myrrh, an element usually
      used at the time of burial was to indicate the importance of Christ's unique death (John 19:39, Mark14:3-9).Myrrh-a sweet smelling resin- served as a medicine. (Mark 15:23) was indicative of the healing power of Jesus proving his divinity. All healing comes from God. (Psalms 103:3, Exodus 15:26). Frankincense indicates Christ's holiness as a priest (Hebrew 7:26, Myrrh indicates Christ's eternity as God. Gold indictes his mightiness as King of Kings
      (Rev.19:16).This proves of Jesus divinity - a holy God, an almighty
      God and an immortal God (Isaiah 9:8). This coming of Magi to
      Bethlehem was the fulfilment of the prophecy recorded in Isaiah

      What is our attitude when we offer anything at the time of worship?
      Are we able to honestly set apart our tithe for the church related
      activities? How much effort we take up when we are to offer worship at the church? The Magi might have taken nearly two long years and travelled a long distance from their respective places to reach Bethlehem to offer their worship and that too all in their
      limitations. Are we able to find at least two hours in spending
      inside the church for worship? Aren't we reluctant to attending
      service on Sundays and on important liturgical occasions because of the hectic schedule of lives that we all are unfortunately involved in nowadays? We must learn from them how we should be in taking effort to attending our Sunday worship in our churches even when we have plenty of amenities. Let us see what God wants us to do through prophet Malachi: "Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things". (Malachi 3:10).

      On their way to find Jesus they happened to meet King Herod. They
      made their search in the palace of King Herod for Jesus but they
      could not find him there. Jesus was not found in the comfort of
      herodian luxury. Even king Herod did not know of Jesus' whereabouts
      though Jesus was born under his nose. However hard he tried, he could not find Jesus in his area. Because it is said that only one who is pure in heart can see God. (Mathew 5:8). Jesus is revealed to one who makes a personal endeavour in seeking Christ. Jesus would never be in a place where arrogance of power and wealth rule the roost. Instead, he is found only a house of humility and simplicity. He is manifested to one who earnestly seeks Him. The question, "Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews"? , still echoes in our ears. Are we able to find Jesus in our lives? If Christ is not born in our hearts, our celebrations of Christmas become meaningless.

      The Star of the East that guided the Magi to infant Jesus stands here as a sign and symbol. The symbols used in our liturgy are meant to lead us all to the vicinity of God -the transcendent. We read in this passage that the wise men were so happy seeing the star. (Verse 10) Are we happy when we see the symbols in our church? And when they reached the house where Jesus had been to, they prostrated before him, worshipped him, and offered to Him what they had brought. This is the real mode of worship and it is a point to be noted that these three form part of our orthodox liturgy. Yet another point to be noted is that Jesus was seen along with his mother St. Mary in his house. Here comes the relevance of St.Mary in our liturgy.

      Finally we read in the passage that they were asked not to turn back
      to Herod. Instead, they straight away went back to their own home.
      After seeing Jesus- the real God- no one needs to revisit Herodian
      palace on one's spiritual journey. After accepting Christ, we are
      supposed to give up our old life style and are bound to lead holy and austere life- a life totally different from that of the secular
      world. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is
      gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

      On this first Sunday after Christmas, let us prepare ourselves for
      Christ to come to our lives. Let us find some space in our personal
      lives for him to born and dwell in our hearts. Let us set off a
      spiritual journey- a pilgrimage- in search of Christ and worship Him
      in truth and spirit with everything that we have with us. Let us
      usher in the New Year with a renewed hope and aspirations. Let us
      enter into the year 2008 with new hopes and good determinations. Let
      the years to come be brighter than the yesteryears. May the good God
      who was born for us sinners, bless us with his very presence. I

      wish you all a very peaceful and blessed new year.

      With love and prayers,
      Yours in His service.
      George achen, Ireland.
      St.Peter's&St.Paul's Orthodox Congregation,
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