My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten,
begotten of the Father before All ages, Light of Light, True God
of True God, begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father,
by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our
salvation came down from heaven, and was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit
and the Virgin Mary, and became man…” (The Creed)
By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos
In Christ there are TWO BIRTHS. One is before all ages, from the Father beyond cause, word, time and nature, and the other was made for us by the Most Holy Theotokos “at the time of conception,” but “beyond any law of conception,” because He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and NOT BY SEED.
The Son and Logos/Word of God WAS BORN BEFORE ALL AGES of a Virgin Father, without a mother; and in time, from a Virgin Mother, WITHOUT A CORPOREAL FATHER. Both births were without passion and without a flow, because neither did God the Father suffer anything by the birth, NOR DID THE PANAGIA (Theotokos) LOSE HER VIRGINITY (EVER-VIRGIN) BY THE BIRTH.
And both births are INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO HUMAN REASON. We accept the Revealed Truth that He was born of the Father without flow and by the Panagia without seed, without working these facts out mentally. For, according to Saint Gregory the Theologian, the effort to understand the Mysteries beyond reason can lead man to madness. The fact is THAT THESE TWO BIRTHS GIVE INDISPENSABLE ASSURANCE THAT MAN CAN BE SAVED ONLY THROUGH CHRIST, BECAUSE CHRIST CORRECTED ADAM’S ERROR AND GUIDED MAN TO THE GOAL WHICH ADAM WOULD HAVE REACHED IF HE HAD NOT SINNED.
“The Incarnation of the Son and Logos/Word of God was timed towards THE RESTORATION OF ADAM AND EVE, and principally towards THE DEIFICATION (THEOSIS) OF MAN. According to Saint Athanasios the Great, GOD BECAME MAN IN ORDER TO MAKE MAN GOD. We find the same thing also in the Troparia hymns of the Church: “Now God becomes man, that He may make Adam God.”
“Christ’s Incarnation is also called SELF-EMPTYING (KENOSIS). The words of the Apostle Paul are astonishing: “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF AND BECAME OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH ON THE CROSS” (Philippians 2:6-8).
The KENOSIS of the Logos/Word must be taken as CONDESCENSION. “He comes down to the level of His servants, an ineffable and incomprehensible CONDESCENSION (Saint John of Damascus). He comes down to the level of the human race, taking on the form of A SERVANT, that is to say, THE FLESH, and in some way belittles and diminishes His Divinity, WITHOUT CEASING TO BE GOD, in order to be finite (Saint Gregory the Theologian). These words of Saint Gregory the Theologian are characteristic: “He that is full EMPTIES Himself, for He empties Himself OF HIS GLORY FOR A SHORT WHILE, THAT I MAY HAVE A SHARE IN HIS FULLNESS.”
“After all that we have said, we can look at the following FOUR POINTS which show a personal approach to this Great Feast, the “CAPITAL” of all the feasts of the Lord:
First. The cave in which Christ was born is a type of the Church. Saint Athanasius the Great speaks graphically. The small room where the Panagia awaited the birth has been accepted as the type of the Church. The manger is seen as the altar, Joseph is the server, the Magi are the Clergy, the Shepherds are the Deacons, the Angels are the Priests, the Lord is the Bishop, the Virgin is the Throne, the craters are the Chalices, the Incarnation is the Vestments, the Cherubim are the fans, the Holy Spirit is the Paten, the Father Who overshadows all things with His power is the Veil covering the Paten.
The Church is THE BODY OF CHRIST the Godman, that which was borne in the womb of the Theotokos, was born, WAS TRANSFIGURED, SUFFERED, WAS CRUCIFIED, ROSE AGAIN AND WAS TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN. In the Divine Liturgy this Great Mystery is celebrated and we are given THE ABILITY TO PARTAKE OF THE GRACE OF CHRIST. The Church IS NOT A HUMAN ORGANIZATION, NOR IS THE DIVINE LITURGY A RITE OF COMMEMORATION AND SANCTIFICATION OF OUR FEELINGS.
Second. The Divine and Human Natures are always UNITED with His Human Nature in the hypostasis of the Logos/Word WITHOUT CHANGE, CONFUSION, DIVISION OR SEPARATION. This means that they have never been separated and they never are separated.
Third. Since we bow before this Great Mystery of the Incarnation, and especially since we commune of the Body and Blood of Christ, we must deceive Herod as the Magi did. The Evangelist Matthew says of the Magi: “being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way” (Matthew 2:12).
The word ‘Herod’ in the Hebrew language means ‘of leather.’ Therefore, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says that we must delude the thought and pleasures of the flesh. Moreover, we must mock the devil of the mind, who prevents us from walking the path of salvation. We must return by another way, BY THE VIRTUES, TO OUR NATIVE LAND, WHICH IS Paradise.
This means that WE ARE REQUIRED TO LIVE A MYSTERIAKE ZOE (A SACRAMENTAL AND ASCETIC LIFE). ALL WHO LIVE ASCETICALLY ARE GRANTED TO BE UNITED WITH CHRIST, IN THE MYSTERIA (SACRAMENTS).
Fourth. When a person lives sacramentally and ascetically, in harmony with the spirit of the Orthodox Holy Tradition, then he is experiencing spiritually the Events of the Divine Incarnation in his/her heart, and more generally in his/her whole being. Then he/she does not perceive Events outwardly, BUT INWARDLY. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that when a man purifies his hear and is illuminated, then HE RECEIVES CHRIST WITHIN HIMSELF AND UNDERSTANDS His infant-like leaps. Christ is conceived as an Infant in him and is born through the virtues, and now the man is living all these events in his being. To be sure, IT IS ONLY IN CHRIST THAT THE DIVINE WAS UNITED WITH THE HUMAN NATURE HYPOSTATICALLY. But the deified (theosis) person also receives God’s energy in his nature AND BECOMES A MEMBER OF THE Body of Christ. Thus, he comprehends how the grace of God works in his nature, what kenosis is, what deification (theosis) of human nature is.
The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was aimed at the DEIFICATION (THEOSIS) of human nature. However, the hypostasis of each one of us must also be deified. If we do not anticipate DEIFICATION, then for us it is as if Christ had not become man. [Source: The Feasts of the Lord. An introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God