This Sunday we read the gospel from Luke 17:12-19 about the ten lepers who asked Jesus to heal them when he entered into a certain village. Jesus instructed them to show themselves to the priests, which they did and were healed. Then one of the ten turned back to thank Jesus and glorify Him and he was a Samaritan, but the other nine did not. Jesus then said were there not ten yet only one returned to give thanks. Then Jesus said to the one who returned, “Arise, go your way your faith has made you well”. This was indeed a lesson in gratitude for the healing that was given by God, but it also tells us that sometimes though healed many do not return to give thanks and glorify God for all he has done for us.
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. Jesus then after they were healed spoke the words, “Blessed are the poor for yours is the kingdom of heaven”, and then, “Blessed are you who hunger now for you shall be filled….and the other Beatitudes”. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven”.
In the ecclesiastical cycle of the Orthodox Church, we remember on this day the Forefathers, the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets and righteous men and women of our Christian faith. The theme of this Sunday is that of preparation: how God worked great signs and wonders through special witnesses preparing for the sending of His Son to the world according to his perfect plan.
These righteous men and women responded to the call of God, served Him with devotion, and many of them fervently anticipated the coming of the Messiah.
As we commemorate and remember these righteous individuals on this Sunday, we, too, seek to respond to God’s call to us, to lift up our hearts in thankful prayer to Him for His promises and to expectantly prepare for the joyful celebration of the coming of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into our lives.
Among those commemorated on this Feast of the Forefathers are the courageous example of the three young youths, Shadrach. Meshach and Abednego who were rescued by God from King Nebuchadnezzar’s blazing furnace.
In our Orthodox tradition the three young youths surrounded in the fire by divine light represent the mystery of the Holy Trinity and also pre-figure the presence of Christ in the Virgin’s womb because, “the fire of divinity consumed not the Virgin’s womb into which it had descended” (Christmas Matins Hymn). Thus this Sunday continues to prepare us for the birth and incarnation of Christ in the flesh.
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.
May we strive as the righteous of Old did to rightfully and appropriately prepare ourselves for the gift of the birth of the Savior of the world.