Daily Devotion for December 29, 2012
Fifth Day of Christmas
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
A Prayer to Follow the Star
Lord, may I be like the Wise Men who were guided to you by the Star of Bethlehem. Give me the wisdom to seek you, a light to guide me to you, the courage and persistence to search until I find you, the graciousness to worship you and the generosity to lay my gift before you, who is my King and my God for ever and ever.
For our Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Door to Christmas
The way to Christmas lies through an ancient gate. . . . It is a little gate, child-high, child-wide, and there is a password: "Peace on earth to men of good will."
May you, this Christmas, become as a little child again and enter into His kingdom.
~ Angelo Patri
The Flight into Egypt and Slaughter of the Innocents
Now when they [the three Magi] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you 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 for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more."
Notes on the Scripture
The Herod depicted in this passage is Herod the Great. He was an Edomite, which is to say, a Jew from the large area extending south from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, bordering Egypt. (Today, ancient Edom is known as Idumea; it has become a generally barren land and geographically is part of southern Israel, southern Jordan, and eastern Egypt.) King David conquered Edom, and the people (by choice or force) had adopted Judaism by the time of Christ. Herod the Great lived from 73 BC to 4 BC; at the time of Christ's birth, he had been established by the Romans as a great king, ruling as a Roman "client" king over Idumea (Edom), Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
He was ruthless in defense of his power and notorious for his brutality. He was infamous for having slain his own sons, to prevent one of them from trying to usurp his throne. One ancient historian (Macrobius) wrote that when Caesar Augustus heard that all children under the age of two in Syria had been slain, he said, "it would be better to be Herod's pig than his son". Although some Christian commentators over the centuries have estimated the number of children murdered to have been in the tens of thousands, a more realistic view is that probably 10 to 50 infant males were slaughtered.
As short as it is, the story is inherently powerful, both saddening and infuriating. It has been widely celebrated as a feast day in Catholic countries and has formed the subject of countless sermons in churches of every denomination. The event presages the crucifixion of the innocent Christ.