December 16, 2017

The Holy Prophet Haggai (6th c. BC)
Nativity Fast. Day of fast.

Ephesians 1:16-23; Luke 12:32-40

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

As Christians who follow the Byzantine tradition we do not have a clearly defined season of Advent like our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, or as members of various Protestant denominations do. Yet, as we move day by day closer to the joyful celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity in the Flesh at Christmas we encounter in the Gospel readings themes that define this season of the liturgical year: wait, be awake, attend, be ready, expect His coming. The word advent derives from two Latin words, the preposition ad, meaning ‘to’ or ‘towards’, and the verb venire which means ‘to come’. Thus, advent means literally ‘comes to’ or ‘comes towards’. Who is the One who comes to us? It is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah promised by God and spoken of by the prophets. Today we celebrate the feast of the prophet Haggai, one of five Old Testament prophets who we commemorate during this month of December. The prophets awaited He by whom and through whom Israel would be delivered and restored to the Lord God. During this season of the Nativity Fast we sing the words “The ‘One Who Comes’ dispels the darkness and ushers in the New Law’s grace” and are reminded that the coming of Our Saviour did indeed restore all things and all people to God, healing the breach that came about through the Fall.

The Gospel today reminds us that we will soon, again, commemorate Our Saviour’s birth and that we must be prepared to greet Him as the Messiah. We also greet Him as present and active today in the life of the Church, as Emmanuel, “God with us”, and so we are reminded that each and every day of our lives we must be awake to His active presence and be attentive to His Word. Finally, we must be ready, living faithful Christian lives, as we expectantly await His coming again in glory when all will be revealed. As we approach communion in these days before we celebrate the Nativity of Christ, let us pray all the more earnestly:

You have filled me with the sweetness of Your love, O Christ,
and You have changed me with Your divine passion.
Burn away my sins with spiritual fire
and deign to fill me with Your delight,
so that rejoicing, O Good One,
I may magnify Your two comings.