Troparion Tone 4
Oh Holy star that guided our Lord in darkness, shine on every family as you did on our Holy Family, giving hope and light from the East to the whole world.
Reading from the Book of John
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
~Chapter 1, Verses: 1 to 5
Reading from the Book of 2 Corinthians
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus our Messiah.
~Chapter 4, Verse: 6
Gospel of Matthew
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, 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 worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the 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. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
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. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, 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.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 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. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 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.
And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 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: 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
~Chapter: 1, Verses: 2 to 23
This weekend in cultures all over the world there are festivals celebrating bringing light into the darkness. In the Americas it is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe whose crown of light and robe of stars bring comfort to all who pray to her but especially families. In Northern Europe small children dress in white and are crowned with candles to honor St. Lucia bringer of light to the darkness. Spanish tradition lights bonfires on the beach to guide ships and candles from them go to light home altar from now until the Nativity as they celebrate Our Lady of the Oceans.
All of these traditions have a common theme, light during the darkest time. The appearance of the Star of Bethlehem takes place during the darkest weeks of the year. It’s presence was marked by scholars and men of science throughout the Eastern world. It’s exact nature and cause has many theories astrologically, but for today’s work only the fact that it appeared matters.
Our holy family was about to take a journey in in the darkest time of the year to pay taxes. Something that had to be done in spite of Mary being very near the end of her pregnancy. The fear and anxiety of such a trip had to fill the little family with worrisome thoughts. Above the very city they headed toward shining when little else did was a star that was normally not so visible, a guide for eyes and soul to give resolve for their journey.
The modern festivals at this time of year are no different, they remind us that in the darkest of times a small light continues through all things to guide us. That light is sacred and appreciated more when the world needs it most. We need it most today to celebrate in one small light the light that will come to the whole world, not just seasonally as the planet spins but in our souls as we observe yearly the miracle of God’s gifts. The gift of light in darkness is the gift of hope in all things yet to come. May our hearts be filled great and small with light today as we await the coming of Our Lord incarnate.