Holy Prophet and King David, Joseph the Betrothed, and James, the
Brother of the Lord

Matthew 2:13-23

 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to
Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take young child and his mother,
and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for
Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. {14} When he arose, he
took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
{15} And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I
called my son. {16} Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the
wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, the and slew all the
children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two
years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently
inquired of the wise men. {17} Then was fulfilled that which was spoken
by Jeremy the prophet, saying, {18} In Rama was there a voice heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her
children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. {19} But
when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt, {20} Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his
mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought
the young child's life. {21} And he arose, and took the young child and
his mother, and came into the land of Israel. {22} But when he heard
that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he
was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a
dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: {23} And he came and
dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was 

spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Today is the Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord, in which we always
commemorate the holy Prophet David, and James the brother of the Lord,
and Joseph the Betrothed. 

When we read about the events that occurred right after the birth of
Christ - in the 40 days or so right after the birth of Christ - we
should be struck with how carefully God plans for our salvation.
Everything was already arranged. He knew that Herod would wax wroth. He
knew that he would try to kill Him. And although He was only a babe,
Herod could not kill Him, because evil is powerless against good. Jesus
avoided Herod quietly, very quietly. First He warned the wise men not to
go back to Herod, and then He warned Joseph in a dream, to flee into
Egypt, and he did. The God-man, fleeing for His life into Egypt. A babe,
but a king as well as a babe, fully in control of everything. 

Now Herod, after he saw that Christ had escaped his clutches, was
extremely angry. Herod was a brute of a man. He later died in terrible
agony, and worms ate his flesh while he was still alive. And the last
thing he did was to call his guards to tell them to kill all his
enemies, because he wanted to kill anyone that threatened him even after
his death. And what did he do shortly after our Lord's birth? He wanted
to kill all the children in the area. 10,000 holy Innocents were
murdered. This should teach us something. It is historical fact, but
brothers and sisters, do not read the bible as a history book, because
the events in it are carefully arranged, by the providence of God, to
teach us about the Christian life. 

Now right after this glorious occurrence - a quiet occurrence, but
glorious none the less - known by the wise men, known by the shepherds,
known by the simple people, and exclaimed throughout all the heavenly
hosts - the birth of Christ - came a terrible torrent of evil upon that
area. It was not accidental that this happened; it was inevitable that
this would happen, and we should learn from this occurrence for our own

The Christian life is struggle. The Christian life is battle to the
death. Now, God gives us great consolation and fills our hearts with His
grace and this exceeding happiness that a Christian should have, at
least occasionally, when he wonders at the grace of God. Indeed, a
Christian should be happy. And the real meaning of the word happy is
blessed. He should feel truly redeemed, he should be at peace in his
heart, because he knows that God desires his salvation more that he even
desires it himself. But in the midst of this peace that we should feel,
there are great deprivations and great difficulties and great sadness. 

If a Christian indeed does not lament and mourn, then he is not a
Christian. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
The mourning of these mothers was forced upon them. Some of these
mothers certainly must have endured their pain with grace and had a
crown for what they endured. And others, they just lost their children
and they probably were among those that later, in their old age, said,
"Crucify Him, Crucify Him." 

They suffered involuntarily, but a Christian must suffer voluntarily. A
Christian must understand that as God gives grace, the Evil one hates us
and tries to take away everything that is given. He tries to snatch away
the seed. Now, if we leave the seed out on the ground, the hard earth,
it will be snatched away by those birds of the air, the demons. If we
don't protect the seed, and nurture the ground, then tares, weeds, will
spring up and choke our life. 

We must expect temptations. The Fathers say, without temptations, no man
can be saved. And the reason is because Satan hates good. When he sees
good, he reacts against it. He used as his instrument Herod, that wicked
man, who killed ten thousand holy innocent children, who had nothing
whatsoever to do with the birth of Christ. We number then as martyrs. 

We see this pattern repeated over and over and over again in the
Gospels, in the entire scriptures, and you should see it in your life.
Indeed, when you have something in which God truly blesses you, you
should steel yourself and be careful, because Satan is lurking like a
lion, waiting to devour, and he will try to devour in the very near
future after some victory is obtained. 

Now, should we be afraid because of this? Should we be morose? No, not
at all. Our Lord and God and Savior showed us the path, He showed us how
to live. As a babe He ran away, at night, into Egypt, when He could have
called down legions of angels to protect Him. As a man, He allowed the
rabble to take Him by night, to try Him unjustly and crucify Him, when
He could have called down legions of angels. Evil thought that it was
able to kill Christ, but it was powerless. Herod thought that he could
kill Christ when He was born, but he was powerless. 

Many times there are things that go on in our lives that truly wash over
us like waves and cause us great distress, whatever it might be. A
terrible situation at work, a family situation that grieves us, maybe
our own sins, something that we cannot battle very effectively at the
time, and many other things. And indeed, also as a Christian, we should
notice the world around us and grieve and lament and mourn that so few
know the God-Man Jesus Christ, and so few live according to this
knowledge, even within the church. 

The examples of the Scriptures where they show that temptations follow
God's grace, sort of like a hyena follows after the dogs when they make
a kill, and eventually will steal the kill from them. This is what
happens. The demons follow after God and try to upset His grace. And
this is possible to do, but only if we do not understand the mercy of
God and only if we do not live in this mercy. If we live according to
the Christian way of life and understand the Resurrection, then we are
unshakable. What does it say about the martyrs that we read in the Old
Testament, in the Wisdom of Solomon: "In the sight of the unwise they
seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, And their going
from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace." 

Even in the midst of our trials, our difficulties, which indeed as
Christians we should feel with a great depth of soul, and with great
sadness concerning our own weaknesses, and the weaknesses and sins of
those we love, and the difficulties that assail the Church, and all the
rest, even in the midst of all these terrible things that occur, we must
be at peace, because we must understand that God truly has our salvation
planned. It only is required of us that we follow the trail that He has
already blazed, that we live as He has taught us to live. Then it
matters not, concerning the Herods of the world that try to kill us,
because we will be at peace. 

Truly the Gospels are a beautiful multi-faceted jewel. This story, which
is a sweet story to tell to children. We can and show Jesus on the
donkey and show the tree bowing down to worship Him as he went into
Egypt, and the beautiful story of Justus and Dismas, the Good Thief
being Dismas, who allowed the Theotokos and Joseph and the Family to
pass and did not rob them. Later on, Dismas was saved, 30 years later,
and Justus went to judgement because he had not shown compassion to the
family. All these are beautiful stories, they-re all true, and they're
very profound. 

But there is a hidden meaning in these stories, and today I want you to
try to understand this hidden meaning. Expect temptation, but don't fear
it. Expect difficulties, but don't fear them. Don't become despondent
because of the difficulties of living the Christian life. You are not
the only one that struggles to say your prayers and gets bored with
them. You're not the only one that has difficulty in the middle of the
fast with being crabby because you'd rather eat non-fasting foods.
You're not the only one that falls into difficulties with anger, or with
lust, or with cowardice, or all the rest. If indeed, you understand that
you are part of a plan, that God has redeemed you and will indeed
perfect you until the day of Christ Jesus, as St. Paul says, then you
should not fear all these things. You should expect them, and like a
good soldier, you should fight them. 

Now, a soldier that knows that there is going to be an invasion in the
night, readies himself. He makes sure his weapons are in good working
order. He makes sure he understands what the commander has told him to
do, what the plan of defense and counter-attack is. He does not cower in
his foxhole, because that is a sure way to die. We must be like these
soldiers. We are soldiers. We should expect attacks; we should expect
Satan to try us, to make things difficult, but we should be at peace
because we should feel part of the plan of God, that he cares for us and
wishes us to be saved. 

I believe in my heart, this is why the birth of Christ and the aftermath
of his birth and all the planning that was done is described so
carefully, and also such care is taken to describe things about the
Mother of God and her birth, and the birth of St. John the Baptist, and
all the prophecies. Their purpose is not just to give us an historical
tapestry, but their purpose is to show us the care that God has for us,
intimate detail, in how He cares for our salvation. 

So when you struggle tonight or tomorrow or the next day with a sin, God
is aware and God cares about that struggle at that moment. Do not feel
despondent about your struggle. Do not feel despondent about any losses
that you suffer. They are only battle skirmishes. You can lose many
battles and still win the war, as long as you stay the course that the
Commander has given you. So we must stay this course, which is the
living of the Christian life, with faith and with love, and with
confidence. Don-t be afraid of temptations, brothers and sisters. Don't
expect everything to go perfectly well because you are a Christian.
Every day as a Christian, you should mourn something. Mostly you should
mourn your sins. You should mourn how little you've accomplished in
holding on to the grace of God, which He has given. But in the midst of
this mourning, you must not have a sense of hopelessness. Because even
if you do not appropriate the grace that God wants to give you today, He
will send down the same grace tomorrow and the next day and the next. 
You must learn to appropriate this grace. You must learn to live with
faith. You must learn to see God's plan in your life. Then you will
realize the true meaning of the incarnation. 

Jesus Christ lived the life that He wants us to be able to live. He
accomplished what He wishes us to accomplish. The battle has been
fought, and it is already a decisive victory.  The kingdom of heaven is
within you. We have all already won. We need only to appropriate this
victory. It only appears to us that we are losing the battle, with our
sins or with difficulties in life. Indeed God has already fought this
battle for us. If we live according to the plan, and we feel secure in
His embrace, just like a child, nothing can harm us. Little Sven has no
worries in the world. He knows his mommy and daddy are going to take
care of him. He dos not worry whatsoever about what tomorrow will bring.
This is you we should be. He's just going to do what his mommy and daddy
tell him, that's all. He will grow, become bigger, stronger, become a
man. It's the same with us. Rest in God's plan, brothers and sisters. 

Of course, to rest in it you must follow it, now. In the places where
you don't follow it you should feel very much restlessness. You should
feel very much sadness if you're not following his plan, if you're not
living according to the commandments in some way, if you're not
prioritizing your life properly. Indeed, then you should feel great fear
and great trembling. But if you are following the plan as best as you
can at the moment God will reward. God will not abandon. This is what
this reading is really trying to show us. This is what all the planning
that the Scriptures describe is trying to show us. God cares. God knows
every hair on our heads. Certainly He knows every temptation we will
encounter, every sin we will sin, every sadness we will feel. And He
will not abandon us, but we are required to not to abandon Him, in order
to remain close to His grace. 

Brothers and sisters, believe in the incarnation and the Resurrection.
Follow the path. You know how well it is marked out. It's marked out
well by the Scriptures and by the way of life in the Church, the perfect
way of life. Strive to learn the commandments and be at peace, even
though you will have worries and troubles. I tell you honestly, my life
is filled with troubles and worries, more than I ever had in my life
before. And they affect me in ways I wish they didn't do. But I know
absolutely that I am on the path, and therefore I'm not afraid. You
should not be afraid either, even in the midst of all the difficulties
you encounter. Stay on the path, listen carefully to the still small
voice that God has, when he shows you the way, and be at peace. And save
your souls in the midst of all tribulations. Amen. 

This, and other Orthodox materials are available in booklet and
electronic form from: 

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas

Mailing Address	2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75070

Rectory Phone	972/529-2754


Web Page

All rights reserved. Please use this material in any way that is
edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We
ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any
way. We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only,
including this paragraph, to any electronic mailing list.

 Matthew 2:1-12

 Luke 2:8-18

 Luke 2:18

 Luke 2:13-14

 Matthew 5:4

 Luke 23:21

 Cf. Matthew 13:3-9, the Parable of the Sower

 Cf.  Matthew 13:24-25 - the Parable of the tares

 (1 Pet 5:8)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

 Matthew 26:53

 Wisdom of Solomon 3:2-3

 (Phil 1:6)  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath
begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

	-   PAGE  2  -