In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Greetings in the name of our Lord the Christ! My beloved, as we brave on in these difficult times, we are beginning to sense the footsteps of Christmas.

To many, it is another tired season of finding gifts to appease many, eating way too much, and getting drunk over and over again. To hear the lament of many, we can sense that Christmas, to many people, is just another holiday that will come and go, and then forgotten until the next year ends again.

However, let us consider the life of Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz), the Spanish Christian mystic, for this Christmas.

At just fourteen years old, Saint John was already working at a hospital caring for the terminally ill and the insane. And when he became an ordained Carmelite monk, he was persecuted by his own order and locked in a cell. At that point, he had nothing left of the world, but God Himself. Eventually he managed to escape, and continued to lived a life of poverty and compassion for others.

To many of us, life’s little troubles and challenges would cripple us with anger, hatred, frustration, and apathy. But yet, Saint John was able to rise above all of his challenges to continue to love and care for others. One of his sayings was, “Where there is no love, put love – and you will find love.”

So, despite our little challenges, could we consider the life of Saint John of the Cross, who was able to love God, and abide by His commandment to love others, despite his immense suffering and persecution?

Let us be reminded that Christmas is not just a season of senseless enjoyment and lament, but a time to reflect on our time spent for the past year. Have we spent time leaning towards God and hearing His heartbeat? Have we spent time looking out for the needs of others?

We are from the East. Let us remember the Lord’s Nativity, and our blessed Theotokos, from Matthew 2:1-2, “When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him.”

Peace of our Lord be with you always!

Let us say a thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings
Fr Raphael+