The 40-day Nativity Fast is concluding. The great miracle of the Incarnation is at hand. Together we chant, “Christ is born, glorify Him!”

Part III of our Christmas Spiritual Nourishment series focuses on the assigned Gospel reading, Matthew 2:1-12 (see below), for Christmas.

We will examine two points in particular that Matthew the Evangelist describes and are noteworthy, especially in today’s society. The first is the deep desire of the “wise men from the East” who came in search of the Lord in order to worship Him. The second point is the “treasures” and “gifts” offered to the Lord by the wise men that we know are recorded as gold and frankincense and myrrh.

On the first point, let us ask ourselves: do we diligently look for Jesus Christ, for the Word of God, like the wise men did more than two thousand years ago? They saw and followed a “star” in order to find the Savior of the world. What do we do? We have more than just a “star.” We have the Church that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). We have the Holy Mother, our Panaghia, the saints and martyrs of the Church, who sacrificed their lives for the love and glory of God. Above all we have Jesus Christ Himself in Holy Communion, which the Fathers of the Church describe as the medicine of immortality.

Do we look for Christ like the wise men did? Do we search out for Him like a friend: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

On the second point, let us ask ourselves: do we offer gifts, especially to those in need? Are we “cheerful givers” as St. Paul writes (cf. II Corinthians 9:7)? Almsgiving is one of the greatest Christian virtues; this year in particular, as many of our brothers and sisters struggle to deal with the effects of the pandemic, those who are able and can help their fellow man should consider doing so, inspired by the Gospel reading. Let us also be inspired in this regard by the Bible story of the poor widow (cf. Mark 12:41-44), who, while only giving “two mites,” was counted as a great gift because she did not give out of her abundance, but instead kept nothing for herself.

By searching for Christ, we strengthen our relationship with Him, infusing our hearts with joy and peace in the process. By offering gifts to those in need, we help our society and strengthen our relationship with our brothers and sisters – and directly with Christ as well, since where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them (cf. Matthew 18:20).

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to all!

The Gospel According to Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.