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Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

The Gospel Lesson for the Sunday following the Feast of Christmas is from Matthew 2:13-23, which is a continuation of the story of the birth of Christ. The lesson relates the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt, the slaying of the Holy Innocents by Herod and the coming of Jesus to Nazareth. It is significant that on this day we celebrate the memory of three persons of Christ’s family, David the King (his ancestor), His earthly father, Joseph the Betrothed, and His brother, James the Apostle, who according to tradition was Joseph’s son by a previous marriage. But today December 31, 2023, is correctly designated not as the Sunday after Christmas but the Sunday Before Theophany in which the Gospel of Mark 1:1-8 takes precedence over the Gospel of Matthew 2:13-23.

Thus the theme for today is preparation for a new beginning, for the Evangelist Mark relates the adult life of Jesus, beginning with His Baptism, as the Gospel or the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The role of preparation, the main theme of the Sunday Before Theophany, is fulfilled by John the Baptist who announces the public appearance of Christ and seeks to prepare the people to accept Him. Therefore, the preaching of John the Baptist is already the beginning good news of Christ by anticipation, for John thunders to us, “… Get the road ready for the Lord, Make a straight path for Him to travel! …The man who will come after me us much greater than I am” (Mark 1:3)

These words are especially important for us as we end one year and begin another. The question this gospel proposes to us is truly significant, “Can we in the New Year heed the gospel of Jesus Christ in everything we do, and make our path straight, “believing in Him more fervently and by following His teachings more closely”. It is indeed a monumental challenge but imagine the spiritual goal worthy of the love of Jesus Christ, What a inspiring message, what a spiritual challenge, entreating us to change our lives and embark on a new beginning, casting off the old with the new for everything changes, everything is in process, everything is mortal, everything- except the Eternal Christ, Who is the beginning and the end, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelations 1:8) Amen!

Christ is Born!

Theophany Icon
Holy Innocents of Bethlehem