Word Magazine December 1976 Page 19/21

Homily by Father James C. Meena

When I was a little boy, as with all children, I used to Liturgical Celebration of the Birth of our Lord, when we anticipate the coming of Christmas weeks in advance. I’d should be meditating and contemplating our lives so that get excited and start thinking about the good food that we can present them at the altar with the newborn Christ was going to be shared and the gifts that would be forth- and partake of the Chalice which He has given to us in coming, decorating the Christmas tree, putting lights in order that we might be born again with Him. Many of us the window, presents under the tree, waiting for Santa. I have neglectfully lapsed into the traps which society has used to wonder for weeks what I was going to get for laid for us. Christmas becomes a social time of the year to Christmas and I would go scrounging around the house in be celebrated from late November until December 25th all of the cupboards and the closets looking for anything and then to be forgotten about immediately and as quickly that looked like a Christmas present and surreptitiously I as possible. How many of us have said, “I’m so glad it’s would find these gifts and I would play with the toys that over” when it really has only begun.

Once one of our brothers in Christ picked up the time. Then when Christmas day actually came and when I called his home, and said “Happy New gifts were given to me and I had to open them, I said, “No, Merry Christmas”, because pretend to be so excited and surprised because I didn’t want anybody to know that I had been celebrating the Nativity of Christ.

I am very much like that child, even though our society does Twelve Days of Christmas”. Well the Twelve Days of not recognize, to a great extend, the religious significance, Christmas are a Spiritual and Liturgical reality to the the spiritual value of this Holy Season. It has gotten into practicing Orthodox Christian. Of course we don’t worry the habit of celebrating a secular Christmas by an- about gold rings, and partridges and pear trees but ticipation. The commercial segment of our society begins everyday of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a celebration readying itself to this holiday, even before Thanksgiving is of something concerning the Birth of Christ. The day after over. I am still stunned to see Christmas decorations in the Christmas is the celebration of the Feast of the Theotokos. middle of the streets and in store fronts and everyplace We honor Mary, who was the temple through which Christ where we can look so early in the year. The signs of the was born into the world. And the following days we secular Christmas, parties at school, office parties, club commemorate such personages as David the ancestor of parties have become a natural thing for our society in Christ, and Joseph His step-father, and events such as anticipation of Christmas. I have tried to evaluate this and Christ’s Circumcision.

We remember 40,000 faithful Christians who died for with the joy of the season that they just can’t wait to the faith and the 14,000 infants who were slain at the celebrate, or that this Holy Feast has no real meaning for command of Herod because he didn’t want this Christ them at all and that they will take advantage of any excuse Child to grow into manhood. Everyday for the Twelve to escape the hum-drum routine of their daily way of Days of Christmas until we celebrate the Baptism of our living. Lord, is a Celebration of the Nativity of Christ.

I’m afraid that based on an evaluation of many years, I it is a contradiction of terms for us, like that little child must come to the conclusion that the latter is true. The that I described at the onset of this sermon, to look for the reason that I make these comments to you is that we have toys and the pleasures of Christmas in anticipation of the become infected by the maladies of society. We of the Birth of Christ. For us, as Christians, those six weeks Church also celebrate Christmas by anticipation. We before the actual day of the Nativity, is supposed to be a celebrate the coming of our Lord before He has come. period of introspection, of self-study, of meditation, so When we should be fasting, we are feasting, and when we that we might transcend ourselves. Talk about tran­should be feasting, we are so overstuffed from our an- scendental meditation, Christians have been practicing it ticipatory celebrations that we fast involuntarily. Isn’t that for hundreds of years. It is not a time for us to par-ironic? Many of us have taken for ourselves the societal ticipate in secular celebration. The true Orthodox custom of inviting friends and family to our homes to feast Christian will refuse to celebrate Christmas before the on the Eve of the Nativity of Christ, when we should befasting and preparing ourselves spiritually for the Lord has been born, and will insist that the Twelve Days of Christmas be the time when he celebrates. Every day should be a Christmas Party from the 25th of December till the 5th of January. Every day is an excuse for feasting and rejoicing because Christ Is Born and we are called upon to Glorify Him.

It is for this reason that we, as your spiritual Fathers, have asked all of the organizations of our churches to celebrate the Birth of the Lord after Christmas and not during the Christmas Fast. It’s not because we’re such disciplinarians, it’s just that we like to put things in their proper order. We will continue calling upon each of you to prepare yourselves for the Coming of our Lord by imposing upon yourselves the proper spiritual disciplines of prayer, repentence, and fasting. We will continue to urge you to stand up like adult men and women in the eyes of God to sing His praises in the midst of the congregation as those who are worthy of His blessings and of the love which He showers upon us. Let us not be victimized by the pleasures and temptations of the society which has been condemned by the words of Christ as being the domain of the prince of this world, who is the prince of Darkness. Let us, rather, as citizens of His Kingdom manifest the glory and the beauty of righteousness and piety that are exemplified in His Birth, in His Ministry, in His Teachings, and in His Example. Then we can bid each other a “Merry Christmas”.

December 1976— Page 21