December 24, 2017

Sunday before the Nativity of Christ; Octoechos Tone 4; Eve of the Nativity of Christ; The Holy Venerable-Martyr Eugenia
Nativity Fast. Day of strict fast, abstinence from meat, dairy and eggs, and foods that contain these ingredients.

Hebrews 11:9-10,17-23,32-40; Matthew 1:1-25

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

This is what the Holy Church encourages us to do today: “Let us meet Him with pure hearts and with good works. Let us prepare ourselves now through the Holy Spirit to greet Him who is coming to His own people as He himself had willed. He is being born in Bethlehem, so that through His compassion He might bring back all of those who were exiled from life in Paradise” (Sunday before the Nativity, Stikhera from Vespers).

Let us prepare to again share the unspeakable joy of the Holy Nativity, which fills the heart of each believer. The Son of God became one of us, having taken as His mother a Virgin from Nazareth. The Son of the Pre-eternal and Almighty God, the Creator of all that is visible and invisible, was born in a poor stable cave and personally experienced all human misery. This is not merely some historical event from long ago, this is our reality as well. In this event that took place in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago we recognize God’s infinite love for the human race, for all time: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Christmas, it would seem, brings about an exchange of gifts: God descends from heaven to earth, so that mankind might ascend into heaven; the Son of God becomes poor, so that we might all be enriched. Let us be ready to participate in that gift-exchange!

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