Advent Day 44: Empathy
The scriptural reading for this particular day comes from the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 13: Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them — those who are mistreated — since you yourselves are in the body also. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
We are only a few days from the end of the Advent season and welcoming Theophany. You find that the Church is directing us, with these words, toward a commitment to Faith that is based on empathy. “Unwittingly entertained angels,” is a reference to opening yourself to the plight of the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant, the refugee in your midst. The “prisoner as if chained with them” is the call to outreach, but to be empathetic to the sufferings of the prisoner. In other words, the call is to do good to others by walking in their shoes, understanding their pain and suffering. Herein is the application of our faith, and certainly an important reminder as we enter the New Year.
To start off the New Year, here is a prayer from the start of the new day, from the Morning Hour of the Armenian Church: We give thanks to You, Lord our God, who with Your light brings joy to all of your creatures, and with the light of Your commandments You have enlightened all those who believe in You. Strengthen us Lord, during this day and at all times, so that with enlightened minds, we may always do that which is pleasing to You, and may arrive at those good things which are to come along with Your saints, with the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom is befitting glory, dominion and honor, now and forever. Amen.