Father Rodney Torbic

December 18 / 31, 2017

The Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ

The Sunday of the Holy Fathers

Mt. 1:1-25

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (KJV)

The Gospel for the Sunday before the Nativity provides a genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ from the time of Abraham to the time of Joseph. The Church wants this listing of names to be known. The names are read every year as believers prepare for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. The genealogy gives a certain order to the centuries prior to Christ.

Believers are expected to think back through the centuries and consider the events that took place leading to the birth of Christ. The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians read on the Feast of the Nativity states: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…” (Gal. 4:4) Jesus came when the fullness of time arrived. Much preparation and anticipation occurred before His birth. Centuries and centuries had passed since the creation of the world.

Current believers live in a culture of immediacy. The passage of centuries takes considerable thinking to contemplate. The mind needs stretched to comprehend the period of time between Abraham and Joseph. The mind needs stretched to consider Jesus being born as an infant. The mind benefits from thinking about the time and place Jesus was born and the people blessed to be a part of His birth and earthly life.

Each person is expected to integrate the birth of Christ into his or her life for personal benefit. To fully receive Christ, each person has to open his or her heart, soul and mind and let Christ enter freely and without hindrance.

The Gospel of St. Matthew enumerates the generations leading to the birth of Christ. Identified individuals are specifically associated with the birth of Christ. The Gospel is particular in mentioning their identities. More than twenty centuries after the birth of Christ, scholars have known historic figures to research and to discover facts that increase the understanding of Christ. Christ is known to each generation to the extent the generation and each individual is capable of knowing Christ.

The heart, mind and soul open to Christ increase in knowledge and experience with Christ. The closed heart, mind and soul come to know little of Christ. The light and love of Christ are experienced to the degree the heart, mind and soul are open to Christ. When room is made in the heart, mind and soul for Christ to enter, the experience with Christ is limited only by the believer’s love for Christ and openness to Christ.

From the time of Abraham to the time of Christ’s birth, individuals had the choice of following the way of God. Abraham knew God and experienced the miracles of God. Abraham and Sarah were blessed with being visited by God and were promised the birth of a son at a time they were quite elderly. (Gen. 18:1-14)

Faithful Abraham experienced the miracle of God when in obedience he was prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac. (Gen. 22:1-14) The Psalms of God are clear evidence that the sinful David valued repentance (Ps. 50/51) and knew God to the depth of his being. (Ps. 102/103)

When Manasseh was in affliction, he humbled himself and prayed to God. Manasseh came to know the Lord was God. (2 Chron. 33:12-13). Today individuals in affliction, humbling themselves and praying to God will experience God. Desire for purity of heart, a right spirit, and a clean soul are important. The Psalmist David said “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps. 50/51/10)

The believer’s approach to the Feast of the Nativity is expected to be a time of prayerful preparation. The Gospel of the Sunday before the Feast is an essential part of that preparation. The Gospel at each Divine Liturgy is a source of nourishment. Hearing the list of names associated with the birth of Christ stirs the heart and mind. Serious believers will want to know more about each of the individuals listed. Serious believers will seek to feed the hunger of the soul by searching the Holy Scriptures throughout life.

December 18 / 31, 2017.
The Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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