My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,



Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn, for
the Forefeast. Mode 4.

As She carried in her womb what she conceived without seed,
Mary went to Bethlehem with elder Joseph to enroll, for they
were of the House and the Lineage of David. The time arrived
for Her to give birth to Her Child, but then there was no place
in the Inn for them. Therefore the grotto served as luxurious
Royal Palace for the Queen. And Christ the Lord is born, to
raise the Image which was formerly fallen.

The Nativity

By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

The Feast of the Birth of Christ as a man is the capital of feasts, as Saint John Chrysostom says. All the other feasts of the Lord – Epiphany, the Transfiguration, the Passion, the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Christ – follow from the Nativity. Without the Nativity, there would have been no Resurrection, but also without the Resurrection, the purpose of the divine Incarnation would not have been fulfilled. All these feasts of the Lord are unified. We separate them in order TO CELEBRATE THEM AND TO LOOK MORE CLOSELY INTO THEIR CONTENT. In every Divine Liturgy, WE LIVE THROUGH ALL THE EVENTS OF THE DIVINE INCARNATION. Therefore, according to the Holy Fathers, IT IS ALWAYS CHRISTMAS, ALWAYS PASCHA, ALWAYS PENTECOST.

What happened at the Annunciation began to be revealed at the Nativity of Christ. When we call it A REVELATION, we mean that there are several persons, such as the Panagia (Theotokos), Joseph, etc., to whom it was revealed that The Christ for Whom all the ages were waiting had come into the world. To be sure, Christ when revealed IS HIDDEN, AND WHEN HIDDEN IS REVEALED. We see in His WHOLE LIFE AS WELL AS IN His REVELATION TO THE saints.

The Birth of Christ is a Historical Event because it took place of a specific moment in history when Caesar Augustus was Emperor of Rome and Herod was the ruler of Judaea. The Evangelists insist on emphasizing THE HISTORICITY OF THE EVENT because they want to say that Christ is a Historical Person. This means that Christ assumed REAL HUMAN FLESH, and THE INCARNATION WAS NOT MERELY SEEMING OR IMAGINED.

In spite of its historicity, this Event remains a Mystery. We know that the Godman, PERFECT GOD AND PERFECT MAN, exists, but IT REMAINS A MYSTERY HOW THE DIVINE NATURE UNITED WITH HUMAN NATURE IN THE PERSON OF THE Logos (Word). Moreover, what happened to the Person of Christ, that the Divine Nature was UNITED HYPOSTATICALLY WITH Human Nature, happened just once. Therefore, Saint John of Damaskos said that Christ is "THE ONLY NEW THING UNDER THE SUN." This means that since the Creation of the world and man, NOTHING NEW HAS HAPPENED IN THE WORLD. Everything is repeated. The birth of a man is a consequence and result of God’s words: "Let us make man in Our Image and Likeness," and "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" [Genesis 1:26-28]. The ONLY NEW THING IS THE GODMAN CHRIST…

"…The Angels’ Hymn is also characteristic: "GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN" [Luke 2:14]. The PEACE which the Angels praised was NOT A SOCIAL PEACE, the absence of war, but THE INCARNATION AND PRESENCE OF CHRIST. Thus the Angels were hymning the peace which came in with the Birth of Christ and NOT a peace that would come in the future. For by His Divine Incarnation Christ GAVE MAN PEACE WITH GOD, his neighbor, and himself as well, precisely because the Divine Nature WAS UNITED WITH THE HUMAN NATURE IN His Person. After the Fall man LOST PEACE WITH GOD because he worshipped idols without souls and senses and not the True God. Now by the Divine Incarnation man IS GIVEN THE POSSIBILITY TO WORSHIP THE True God. He also ATTAINED PEACE WITH THE ANGELS AND WITH HIS FELLOW-MEN. And indeed THE POWERS OF HIS SOUL ATTAINED PEACE because Christ did what Adam FAILED TO DO. Adam had to attain FULL COMMUNION BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND HIS OWN PERSONAL STRUGGLE, THE POWERS OF HIS SOUL HAD TO FUNCTION, AND SUPRANATURALLY. THIS WAS ACHIEVED IN CHRIST…

"… Also present at the Birth of Christ was THE CREATION, which received grace from the Son and Logos {Word) of God made man. The term "CREATION’ comprises the animals, the crypt, the manger, the mountains, the sky, etc. The holy icon of the Birth of Christ shows that THE WHOLE CREATION RECEIVES GRACE FROM CHRIST. At the center of the holy icon is Christ, Who is the Source of UNCREATED GRACE, AND FROM HIM POURS FORTH GOD’S SANCTIFYING AND DEIFYING ENERGY…

"…At the Birth of Christ THE WHOLE CREATION IS EXTOLLING GOD, ITS MAKER. IT IS BEARING WITNESS THAT CHRIST AS GOD IS THE CREATOR OF CREATION, AND THE CREATION IS His handiwork…While God’s energy is one, it has different characteristics according to its effects. Thus we speak of sanctifying and deifing energy, or we speak of God being-bestowing, Life-Giving, Wisdom-imparting and DEIFYING ENERGY. Within this framework we should say that with regard to Ontology, CREATION PARTAKES OF GOD’S BEING-BESTOWING AND LIFE-GIVING ENERGY, AND WITH REGARD TO SALVATION IT PARTAKES OF HIS SANCTIFYING ENERGY. Only the deified and the Angels partake of God’s deifying energy as well.

Therefore, the people present at the Divinie Nativity of Christ, and the Angels as well, PARTOOK OF THE DEIFYING ENERGY OF GOD, while irrational creation partook of God’s SANCTIFYING ENERGY. This is said to avoid any confusion about partaking of God’s grace. [Source: The Feasts of the Lord. An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology)

(To be continued)


"Glory Be To GOD
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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