Saturday after the Nativity of Christ; the Holy Martyr Anysia (286-305); Holy Martyr and Presbyter, Zoticus, Protector of Orphans (4th c.)
No fasting or abstinence.
1 Timothy 6:11-16; Matthew 12:15-21
Christ is Born!
Today’s reading from the Gospel of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew is one of those that, after we read it, we might marvel at the Church’s wisdom in assigning it to this day. Such Gospel readings come along frequently in the cycle of readings: ones that reflect back on God’s Word to the people of Israel and thus reveal something essential to the ministry of Our Saviour. Here we have an extended quotation from the prophecy of Isaiah which the Gospel narrator uses to illustrate an aspect of Christ’s revelation. Here, following criticism from the Pharisees in the previous Gospel passage, Our Lord goes about Galilee healing many who followed Him. The Holy Evangelist draws upon Isaiah’s prophecy to indicate how the Messiah (“my servant whom I have chosen”) will minister to the Gentiles, yet there is no mention made specifically here of the people of Israel. Instead, it is said that the Gentiles to whom justice is proclaimed will be led to hope in the Messiah’s name. For what do they hope? They hope for salvation.
It is beautiful on this Saturday after Our Lord’s Nativity in the Flesh, the sixth day of Christmas, that we encounter Isaiah again. Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming of the Messiah is prominent in the readings at Vespers and the Royal Hours on Christmas Eve. Here we meet Isaiah’s prophecy again and we have a foreshadowing of the establishment of the Church of the Gentiles, the eventual preaching of the Good News to the Greeks and other peoples whom the holy apostles encountered as they spread to many lands following Pentecost. Here we are reminded that Emmanuel, ‘God with Us’, is sent to be with all people, Jews and Gentiles. In our own day, it is important for us to dwell and meditate on this message so as to best the pride and arrogance of the Pharisees in our public lives. Our Lord comes into this world not just for us but for those that are not like us including those who do not profess our faith, those who do not embrace Christian morality, those who embrace and foster a culture of death, or those who persecute the Church. He came for them. Let us during this Christmastide gain greater confidence to profess the Gospel to all people and so bring them the true gift of Emmanuel, ‘God with Us.’