by Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, December 1968
“As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.” (ST. LUKE 2:19)
The very birth of Jesus was a gift to the world. Not only the Christ-child Himself, but the way that the birth took place; on a trip, in a stable in the most calm, joyful and peaceful night the world has known.
The mystery of the night was God’s way of protecting the blessed happening for those who see with eyes of faith.
Can you imagine the birth of the Christ-child in our times? All the indignity, the vulgar exposure and lack of publicity the Holy family would be forced to suffer?
Picture yourself watching the late news on television. The announcer would say: “Finally, a news item from the Near East. A young woman from Nazareth, on her way to register as a citizen in the capitol, just gave birth to a baby some are claiming as the promised savior of the world. Take it away, Matthew Luke, in Bethlehem.”
The next image on the TV would focus on a mass of newsmen jammed into a small hut. Flashbulbs are popping. Hands are reaching out holding microphones, trying to pick up the slight voice of a young girl bombarded with questions from those near her. Yells of “Tell her to hold up the baby!” “Ma’am let’s have a little smile!” “Swing that camera over here!”
The scene switches to the alley outside the small hut. We are greeted by an announcer in tan gabardine raincoat. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Matthew Luke here in Bethlehem, a small suburb of Jerusalem. In just a few moments, PBS will bring you, live, an interview with the young woman whom, it is claimed, was visited by an angel announcing a miraculous birth. Remember, PBS brings you all the news, when it happens!”
I am ashamed for the lack of respect we have today for each other’s privacy. The “right to privacy” is incorrect, because it implies covering up something wicked, that we care not to have exposed. Rather, I am appealing for the recognition of a human’s need for mystery. There are intimate like that. The last thing I should want is to be photographed at the moment of intimacy with my Lord and God.
Any mother has such treasured moments with her infant; Mary and Jesus shared such times, when all others are really intruders. His blessed mother had many such moments referred to in Luke’s gospel. Thanks be to the Father in Heaven that He gave her such moments of mystery, and thanks also to the people of those times, who instinctively honored the sanctity of a person’s personal life. In that respect, those simple peasants were much more cultured than the people of today.
The Holy Innocents - December 29
As acceptable victims and freshly picked flowers, as divine first fruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ Who was born as a Child, O most pure children. You mocked Herod's wickedness: now we beseech you, unceasingly pray for our souls.
Kontakion of the Holy Innocents, Tone 6
The King was born in Bethlehem. The Magi came from the East with gifts. They had been guided by a star. But angry Herod mowed the children like wheat, lamenting that his power was destroyed.