Christ is in our midst!
Today we begin the Nativity Fast, which means for the coming 40 days til Christmas, we devote ourselves to a Lenten season of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving, as we contemplate and prepare for the Incarnation in the Flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Have you stopped to think about this lately? God became man. Yes, Jesus calls us “friends”. Yes, he walks with you–and never leaves your side. But we must stand in awe of that fact realizing: this is God!
I recently watched a movie–I can’t recall the title–about an American President whose wife had died, and he wanted to have a date to a major White House dinner. He was struggling with what it means to be a man, a regular man, while being the President of the USA. He was talking with his closest advisor, to whom he (the President) said, “Please, call me Jerry.” Now this fellow was the President’s best friend, and had been prior to his Presidency. I recall him replying something like, “I’ll do my best, Mr President!”
No matter what, he (the friend), knew that *his friend*, while a real friend, was the POTUS! “I’ll do my best, Mr President.”
We have that same friendship with Jesus–and yet He is not a temporal leader, but the King of Glory. “I’ll do my best, Your Majesty.” or, “I’ll do my best, O Lord and Master of my life!”
It is noteworthy that today’s Gospel Lesson challenges us to the core: COUNT THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS. The cost is everything: your whole life. Your every breath. Your every penny. Your every moment. Your every possession. But in offering Him all of these, we actually offer Him only what He has already given us: Every breath, every penny, every moment, every possession.
A lazy and selfish disciple says, “I will keep these to myself. They are mine.” To which the Generous Lord replies, “you may have them.” But we also know that when we return to the dust and are buried in a box, we cannot take any of those things with us. So have them now, if you wish. But die lonely and empty and distant from God (our own distancing from him, not the other way around).
A true disciple knows that God must be put above all others–even if only for the basic reason that anyone or anything above God on your list *is your God*. And there is only One who will save you.
A disciple measures the cost. This is a season to measure.
Who gave you breath?
Who gave you money?
Who gave you time?
Who gave you possessions?
Will you keep these in a tight fist? Or will you offer them to God as a Thanksgiving–which he so often returns in far greater measure than we offered?
Here is a good essay on why we fast this season.
Count the Cost.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr John Parker