Dearly Beloved in the Lord, Christmas is preeminently a feast of joy. In the radiant faces of our children and grandchildren, in the sparkle of their eyes, in the exchanges of gifts and greetings, in the warm and melodious sounds of Christmas carols, we see a glimpse of humanity’s deepest longings for joy, peace, sharing, unity, health, love and celebration.
On this Sunday December 20, 2020, we commemorate the human ancestors of Jesus, from Adam to Joseph who are all part of the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospels. This gospel particularly draws our attention to the historical genealogy, and thereby, creates in us a feeling of expectation for Christ’s birth – as the fulfillment of humanity’s hopes.
Today December 13th is also the commemoration of the blessed repose of our heavenly patron Saint, Herman of Alaska, the Wonder-worker of America, of who our church is named. This is especially a joyous day for we in our supplications today entreat our beloved, Apa (Father) to intercede to Almighty God on our behalf, especially during the pandemic and its devastating effect on our world.
Today is also the Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (December 6th), at which we read the gospel from St. Luke 6:17-23 concerning Jesus who went onto a level place where the people of Judea and Jerusalen as well as from the seacoast in Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and be healed of their infirmities and afflictions.
The Gospel for this Sunday November 29th, is the reading for the 10th Sunday of Luke and speaks about Jesus’ healing of a crippled woman. Throughout the earthly ministry of Our Lord, Jesus often met with people who had various physical handicaps. We know from the various gospels read during the year about the blind beggar on the road to Jericho (Luke 18:35-43), the paralyzed man who was carried by his four friends to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12), the man with the paralyzed hand (Mark 3:1-6) and many others.
Shortly after the beginning of the Nativity Fast, we Orthodox Christians celebrate the second great feast of the Theotokos – The Entrance of the Holy Theotokos Into the Temple November 21. The first feast of the liturgical year, was the Birth of the Holy Theotokos on September 8th and now it is indeed fitting that our thoughts now at the start of Advent turn to the Mother of God, whose humble and silent expectation should be the model of our own expectation and anticipation of Our Lord’s coming.
Today we hear the Gospel of St. Luke Chapter 8:26-39 in which Jesus arrives in the land of the Gedarenes and encounters a man possessed with demons from the city. The man entreated the Lord not to torment him for Jesus had commanded that the demons leave this man. The demons asked to be loosed into a herd of swine from which they fell down the embankment into the water and drowned, thus freeing the man from demonic possession.