The Nativity of Our Lord: A Eureka Moment
When was the last time you had a ‘eureka’ moment?
I remember years ago when I was a boy living in nearby Windber, there was one big department store in town. That store had three floors just packed full of merchandise. I remember going with my mother and father shopping in that store and buying just about anything we needed. You didn’t have to go to any specialty store. you didn’t have to drive to Johnstown either. The name of that big Windber department store? It was called ‘Eureka Store’. I remember every time I went into that store, it was a eureka moment. You could emerge from that store in triumph knowing that you discovered exactly what you were looking for.
Two thousand years ago, a couple of shepherds had a eureka moment. It came out of nowhere. They were not prepped for it. There was little advance warning. They were minding their own business and tending their sheep. On a cold night in a busy city called Bethlehem, time actually stopped and started all over again. Eureka! Those shepherds found a divine baby who would forever change the world. It was about two years later that three kings on a quest traveling from far countries found the same baby. They too had a eureka moment! They were so thrilled at their discovery that they left expensive gifts for the holy family.
Today it’s two thousand years later, and millions upon millions of Christians have made the same discovery. Wise Christians today use every possible opportunity to help turn themselves toward the miracle of Bethlehem. I saw a priest on the street the other day. he was wearing a christmas button. All it said was this: “God’s gift – Merry Christmas!”.
Advent is one of those expanded moments in time that help take us back through the years to Bethlehem. Our children will present a skit after liturgy this morning – “a Charlie Brown Christmas”. That play will point us in the direction we’re supposed to be going – to Bethlehem. One of the purposes of these forty advent days is to remind us of the purity, the innocence, and the gentleness of the Divine Infant of Bethlehem who came to save.
On Wednesday I was visiting the homebound, and I took communion to our parishioner, Dolores Mirilovich, who was in Crichton Rehab after a fall. I remarked that the month is going quickly, and Christmas will soon be coming. Here is what Dolores said to me: “The baby Jesus was born to save us, father. I pray about that every day”. That’s the advent message – simple, uncomplicated – expressed in a handful of words. That message does not need to be explained by a theological treatise. It needs no interpretation. It speaks for itself.
The saint for today is Andrew, 1st called. He followed Jesus along with John the Baptist when John gave his testimony: ‘this is the Lamb of God’. Advent is taking us to the Lamb of God.
Now here is something that is very important about the Lamb of God. We cannot be saved by Him unless we become like Him. Do not ever forget this. When we become like him, he actually speaks through us. There really is no other way. Listen to what St. John Cchrysostom said sixteen hundred years ago: “Let us allow Christ to speak through us. He desires it more than we do. For He made us an instrument, and He wouldn’t want it to be useless and idle. He always wants to keep it in His hands. Why, then, don’t you make it useful for the maker’s hand?......... for if Christ sees your soul tuned this way, he will make his music through it. When this happens, you will see angels leaping for joy – archangels and the cherubim too. So let us become worthy of His spotless hands. Let us invite him to strike our hearts.”
You know, it’s those kinds of words that drive the devil crazy. Those words also make unbelievers real uncomfortable! But those words also provide priceless advice for us. They are a call to battle – to spiritual warfare – just like St. Paul’s words to us were last Sunday. Today, St. Paul tells us how to dress for this battle. If you were listening well, you heard it in the epistle lesson this morning. Here’s his advice: “put on the whole armor of God. Gird your waist with truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness, having shod your feet with the gospel. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit”. Now that is a Christian in full battle gear!
All who stand for good must wage a constant battle with the forces of evil. Even though we are baptized and we attempt to live a good life, demons will try to trip us up. Remember that demons still have power in the world, and they always will to some extent. They will have power to some degree until Christ comes again in glory. Then the devil will be no more. But right now, the devil is relentless.
But we have advent! Eureka!
You will remember a few weeks ago I told you about an atheist sign campaign in the subways of New York city. The American Humanist Association is at it again, and this time has gone further. Ride on the transit system of Washington, DC this advent. See what atheists are doing in the nation’s capital. On the back of buses, this is what you’ll read: “No God, no problem. Just be good for goodness sake”. This is a slap at Christianity. It is a blatant outright attempt to mock God at Christmas time. Atheists don’t get it.
Shepherds and magi of 2,000 years ago got it. Dolores Mirilovich gets it. The priest wearing his Christmas button gets it. St. John Chrysostom, St. Paul and St. Andrew got it. Even Charlie Brown got it.
The question is this: “Do we get it?” I hope so. Think about it.
Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro