Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord Jesus Who was presented at the Temple of God at the time when He was just eight days old, as He was the Firstborn Son of Mary, which according to the Law and the commandments of God, all the firstborn sons of Israel and his descendants should be presented to the Lord after their birth as a sign of the renewed covenant between God and His people.
This can be linked to what had happened in the past during the time of Abraham, when God made a covenant with him, and established the promise which He had vowed to Abraham, the faithful servant of God, that He would make him and his descendants to be a great nation. But one day, God asked Abraham to bring the son God had promised him, Isaac, to a mountain and sacrifice him as an offering to Him.
We can just imagine what kind of thoughts and emotions that ran through Abraham’s mind at that time. Imagine that the Lord had given you such a great promise, and then suddenly it seemed as if He wanted to take that promise away from him by taking the one whom he had been expecting for a long time, that is a son to be his heir and to be the predecessor of the great nation promised to him.
Yet, if we see how Abraham reacted to the Lord’s request, we can immediately see how he was thoroughly committed to God and obeyed Him without question. He was ready to give up his son to the Lord, as his attitude was likely to be such as, whatever God has given me, God may take again from me. Yes, this is because He is the Lord and Master of all, and it is certainly within His power and authority to decide on the fate of all things.
And therefore, just as Abraham had been willing to give even his own beloved son, the promised son that would be his seed and a great nation, therefore, in this Christmas season, God also would not hold back Himself from giving His own Beloved Son, the Firstborn of all things, not created but Who was with Him since before the beginning of time.
Yes, God gave us none other than His own Beloved Son, the Divine Word of God Who was made Man, one of the Holy Trinity and inseparable part of the Lord, Who came down as a humble Man in Jesus, born of a carpenter and a young virgin, and consecrated to God as all other firstborns of Israel were, so that through Him, this world and all of God’s people might be saved.
This is the essence of Christmas, its true meaning, and which all of us should understand, that the love that God has for all of us is so great, His dedication and commitment to us is so great that He is willing to do all these just so that we may be reunited with Him in perfect love. This is the commitment that God has given to His part of the covenant that He had established with us. But a covenant is a two-way process, and thus we too need to give our part to the covenant.
How do we do this, brethren? Perhaps we should look at the examples of the saint whose life is a good barometer and example to follow in this regard, namely St. Thomas Becket, or St. Thomas of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore the Primate of England who lived and worked at about eight hundred years ago, at the time of the Medieval age Europe.
St. Thomas Becket was once the Chancellor of the Realm, the highest political office equivalent to that of today’s Prime Minister and also a good friend of the king of England at that time, king Henry. For a long time, St. Thomas Becket lived a life of privilege, of honour and worldly glory, with all the things that were made available to him because of his esteemed position.
All this changed when the king appointed him as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest position in the Church within the realm of the English king, with jurisdiction over the other English bishops, priests and also all of the laity. Such an esteemed position was bestowed on St. Thomas Becket by the king with the hope that he would be able to rein the Church that the king will gain better cooperation from a Church controlled by his own confidant.
Yet, St. Thomas Becket received the revelation of the Faith as he embarked on his new duty, and he wholeheartedly devoted himself to the mission he had been entrusted with. He took his new position of responsibility very seriously, and instead of championing the cause of the king as the king had intended when he appointed St. Thomas Becket as the Primate of England, the fact was completely contrary to the desires of the king.
He opposed the king and the nobles in many occasions, defending the rights of the Church and the faith, and also chastised certain nobles for their wicked ways and called for their repentance. Not even opposition and threats from the nobles and all those who had been negatively affected by St. Thomas Becket’s works could stop him from devoting himself completely to God’s works.
In the end, the nobles with the complicity from the king murdered him in a cold-blooded assassination when St. Thomas Becket celebrated the Mass in his own chapel. The assassination was immediately condemned by the Church and by the people, and those involved had to undergo painful penitential efforts before they were allowed to return to the Church, and St. Thomas Becket was universally recognised as a saint for his hard works and efforts.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should be inspired by his examples, and we should redouble our efforts and commit ourselves anew to the Lord. May all of us be able to give ourselves more and more to God our Lord and Father, and may He bless us and keep us always in His love. God bless us all. Amen.