The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Today we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There has been no event in the history of the world more
amazing than the Nativity of Christ. The Lord God Pantocrator,
who created the visible and invisible world and all that
is therein with but a single word, that Same God humbled
Himself, took for Himself Flesh of the Most-blessed Virgin
Mary, was born in a cave, and as a helpless Infant, was
laid in a manger.
Heaven was terrified, and the ends of the earth moved. A
tremendous miracle and mystery had taken place, one utterly
beyond the comprehension not only of man, but of the highest
of the heavenly host.
For what reason did the Lord come down to earth?
There is but one answer: in order to save man. We should
recognize that if the Lord performs this act for man, man
must be of some particular value [to God], for [He] would
not have employed such a means to salvation for the sake
of anything worthless or insignificant. One thousand years
before the Nativity of Christ, the king and prophet David
had exclaimed in bewilderment [in Psalm 8: 4-5]: "O
Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the
Son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou madest him
a little lower than the Angels, and hast crowned him with
glory and honor." We have even more cause to fall in
fear and reverence before the Lord and cry out: "Lord,
what is man, that Thou didst not disdain a virgin womb,
that Thou didst hide Thy Divinity and didst deign to become
a man?" What is man after all? The Word of God says:
man is God's finest creation.
Man is the image of God.
All was created by God's all-powerful word. God said: "Let
there be light: and there was light" [Genesis 1:3].
"Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding
seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind "[Gen.
1:11], and it was so. And God said: "Let the waters
bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life,
and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament
of Heaven" [Gen. 1:20]. And everything happened according
to the word of God. When all was arranged, God turned to
the creation of man, but only
after, as it were, deliberation and counsel. In what caused
St Gregory of Nyssa to marvel, God [the Father] as it were
invited the other Persons of the Holy Trinity to confer
together. For the Lord first said: "Let Us make man
in Our Image, after Our Likeness..." [Gen. 1:26]. "And
the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life" [Gen. 3:7].
The Lord created man by a special act: He first created
the body, and then breathed into it the "breath of
life," i.e. he instilled in it as it were a portion
of His Divine Essence. That is why in the Psalm [Ps. 82:6
KJV/81:6 Septuagint], the Prophet David has God say about
people: "I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are
sons of the Most High." The Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ
Himself confirmed the Truth of those words to the Jews who
were prepared to stone Him to death, accusing Him of making
Himself equal to God by calling God his Father. The Lord
replied to them thus: "Is it not written in your law,
I said, 'Ye are gods' and the scripture cannot be broken?"
[John 10:34-35]. Thus, man is the image of invisible God,
and has within him a "tiny piece" of Divinity.
Man was so fine and beautiful before the Fall into sin,
and even more so after his redemption by the Lord, that
Saints to whom the mysteries of heaven had been revealed,
e.g. Makarios of Egypt, would say: "there is nothing
finer than the human soul either on earth or in heaven."
Man was predestined for blissful happiness, but because
of the devil's envy, he fell, betrayed God, went voluntarily
over to the side of the slanderer, the devil, and desired
to know not only the good which he had known in paradise,
but also evil, which he had not theretofore known. Having
fallen away from God, he fell under the sentence earlier
pronounced by God: "Thou shalt die."
Adam and Eve were spiritually devastated. Their intellect
became darkened and clouded, their will perverse, their
heart twisted; where they had been given a heavenly body,
they now received crude matter, like unto that of cattle.
Because of them, the earth was cursed, and they themselves
were doomed to sorrow and to knowledge of evil--that which
they, on the devil's advice, had sought to know. The more
mankind multiplied, the darker and more sullied did he become.
Lest man fall into despair and utterly perish, the Lord
promised him that in time the family of the wife (not the
husband) - i.e. Christ, born of a Virgin, by the Holy Spirit--would
crush the head of the serpent and would save man. It is
this mysterious event that we now celebrate. The Lord took
pity on His creation, and came down to earth, in order to
save the sheep that had been lost to predators. He came
down to earth in order to raise us up to Heaven once again.
He took on the form of a man, took upon Himself the sins
of all mankind, "God so loved the world that He gave
His only-begotten Son."
Jesus Christ opened the closed gates of paradise. He rebuilt
the spiritual ladder by which man may ascend to Heaven.
In taking on human flesh, the Lord raised man above the
ranks of Angels, and robed him in glory greater than that
of Adam in Paradise before the Fall.
If we are in fact true Christians, if we force ourselves
to act on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had
came for our sake, then we will also be with the Lord, as
He promised his disciples in their final talk before His
Ascension. The Lord said that those who are vouchsafed the
Kingdom of God will become bright as the sun. On Mt. Tabor,
the Lord revealed to man his future glory. His face was
like the sun, His garments sparkled like lightning. That
external beauty and glory was but a tiny hint of the enormous
glory that is within, for according to the prophet "the
kings daughter is all glorious within..."
[Psalm 45:13 KJV/ Ps.44: 13 Septuagint].