My beloved brothers and sisters in God Incarnate,
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
"What Mysteries beyond mind and speech! God, in His
compassion is born on earth, putting on the form of a
servant that He may snatch from servitude to the enemy
them that with fervent love cry out: "Blessed art Thou, O
Savior Who lovest mankind" (Saint Romanos Melodos).
THE PREACHING OF THE PROPHETS
HAS REACHED ITS FULFILLMENT
Saint Andrew of Crete (660-740 A.D.) comments, "Of thee O Mary, all interpreters of the Spirit sand." Nowhere in the Divinely Inspired Scripture can one look without seeing some allusion of Her. "Rejoice, Mdiatress of the law and of grace, Seal of the Old Testament, clear fulfillment of the whole prophecy, of the truth of Scriptures, inspired by God, the Livin and Most Pure Book of God and the Logos/Word in which, without voice or writing, the Writer Himself, God and Logos/Word, in everyday read."
Saint Gregory Palamas (+ 1359) thought that "ALL DIVINELY INSPIRED SCRIPTURES WAS WRITTEN BECAUSE OF THE VIRGIN WHO BROUGHT FORTH GOD INCARNATE."
Saint John of Damascus (676-750 A.D.) interprets the Burning Bush [Exodos 3:1-8] as an image of the virgin Birth when he chants: "Plainly foreshadowed by the burning bush THAT WAS NOT CONSUMED [Exodos 3:2] A HALLOWED WOMB HAS BORN THE LOGOS/WORD. God is mingled with the form of mortal men, and so loses the unhappy womb of Eve from the bitter curse of old" [Genesis 3:16]. And, "That which was revealed to Moses in the bush, we see accomplished her in a strange manner. The Virgin bore Fire within he, yet was not consumed when she gave birth to the Benefactor Who brings us Light."
Saint Andrew of Crete also chants elsewhere that, "As Thou art One of the Trinity, Thou wast seen to become flesh, not changing Thine essence, O Lord. Neither didst Thou burn THE INCORRUPT WOMB OF HER that bore Thee since Thou art Wholly God and fire."
The "BURNING BUSH" was traditionally interpreted as A TYPE OF THE VIRGIN. Saint Gregory of Nyssa (335-394 A.D.) is insisting on the "virginitas in partu." From the image of the burning bush seen by Moses on Sinai, "WE LEARN THE MYSTERY OF THE VIRGIN: the Light of Divinity, which through birth shone from Her into human life, did not wither the Flower of Her Virginity, just AS THE BURNING BUSH WAS NOT CONSUMED."
Saint Ildephonsus (607-667 A.D.), Archbishop of Toledo, wrote that, "The Holy Spirit heated, inflamed, and melted Mary with love, as fire does iron; so that the flame of the Holy Spirit was seen and nothing was felt by the fire of the love of God."
The Prophecy of Isaiah
Isaiah, as he watched by night, beheld the Light that knows no evening, the Light of Thy Theophany, O Christ, that came to pass from tender love for us; and he cries aloud: "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive in the womb" (Isaiah 7:14), and shall bear the INCARNATE LOGOS/WORD, AND ALL THOSE ON EARTH SHALL REJOICE EXCEEDINGLY."
Saint Irenaeus also speaks of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning THE ROD and FLOWER from the root of Jesse. "Thereby the Prophet says that it is of her, who is descended from David and from Abraham, that He is born. For Jesse was a descendant of Abraham, the father of David; the descendant who conceived Christ, the Virgin, is thus become THE ‘ROD’. Moses too worked his miracles before the Pharaoh with a rod; and among others too of mankind, the rod is a sign of empire. And the ‘FLOWER’ refers to His body, for it was made to bud forth by the Spirit."
From the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, we chant, "REJOICE, O MYSTICAL ROD WHICH BLOSSOMED THE UNFADING FLOWER. And, "REJOICE, O Bride of God; thou art the Mystical Rod from whom the Unfading Rose blossomed and budded forth."
THE APPELLATION ‘THEOTOKOS’
CHRIST, Who was born of the Virgin, is True God become Man. There are not two sons: a Son of God and a son of the Virgin. He is ONE Son, from above, MOTHERLESS, out of the Father; from below, fatherless out of a mother. It is proper to call the Virgin Mother ‘Theotokos,’ on the ground that she truly gave birth in the flesh to God.
Saint John of Damascus says, "We hold that God was born of her, not implying that the Divinity of the Logos/Word received from her the beginning of its being, but meaning that God the Logos/Word Himself, Who was begotten of the Father TIMELESSLY BEFORE THE AGES and was with the Father and the Spirit WITHOUT BEGINNING AND THROUGH ETERNITY, took up His abode in these last days for the sake of our salvation in the Virgin’s womb, and was without change made flesh and born of her. For the Holy Virgin did not bear mere man but TRUE GOD: and not only God but GOD INCARNATE, Who did not bring down a body from heaven, nor simply passed through the Virgin as a channel, but RECEIVED FROM HER FLESH OF LIKE ESSENCE TO OUR OWN FROM HEAVEN AND HAD NOT PARTAKEN OF OUR NATURE, WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE USE OF His becoming man? For the purpose of God, the Logos/Word becoming man was that the very same nature, which had sinned and fallen and become corrupted, should TRIUMPH OVER THE DECEIVING TYRANT AND SO BE FREED FROM CORRUPTION. Hence, it is with justice and Truth that we call the Holy Mary the ‘Mother of God.’ For this name, ‘THEOTOKOS,’ EMBRACES THE WHOLE MYSTERY OF THE DISPENSATION."
Saint John continues saying, "We NEVER SAY that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of Christ (Christotokos), because this appellation came about in order to do away with the title Mother of God (Theotokos), and to bring DISHONOR on the Mother of God, who alone is in Truth worthy of honor above all creation. It was the impure and abominable Nestorius, that vessel of dishonor, who invented this name for an INSULT.
WHERE GOD WILLS
THE ORDER OF NATURE IS OVERRULED
"AND SO IT WAS, THAT, WHILE THEY WERE THERE, THE DAYS
WERE ACCOMPLISHED THAT SHE SHOULD BE DELIVERED" [Luke 2:6].
Concerning His birth, the Prophet Isaiah spoke thus, "Before she that travailed brought forth, before the travail-pain cam eon, she escaped it and brought forth a male" (Isaiah 66:7). Saint John of Damascus adds to this saying that "After the normal nine-month gestational period, Christ was born at the beginning of the tenth, in accordance with the law of gestation. It was a birth that surpassed the established order of birthgiving, as IT WAS WITHOUT PAIN; for, whre pleasure had not preceded, pain did not follow. And just as at His conception He had kept her who conceived Him virgin, so also at His Birth did He maintain her virginity INTACT, because He alone passed through her and kept her shut."
THE IDENTITIES OF THE MAGI
Thus we see in holy icons, THREE MAGI traveling, either walking or riding spirited horses over mountainous trails in pursuit of the Star of Bethlehem. They are often depicted beyond and opposite the cave, for they were not present during those first hours after the virgin birth. One magus is a beardless youth. The second magus is a middle-aged man with a short, dark beard, while the third magus is an old man with a gray beard.
According to Saint Dimitri of Rostove ( 1651-1709), in his investigation of the identities of these Three Kings, he asserts that they were kings of small regions in Persia, Arabia and Egypt. They had arrived in Bethlehem very shortly after the birth of Christ. MELCHIOR was old, withered, with long white hair and beard. It was he who offered the Lord THE GIFT OF GOLD. GASPAR OR CASPAR, was of ruddy complexion, young and beardless. He offered the Lord THE GIFT OF FRANKINCENSE. The third, BALTHAZAR, was dark-skinned and heavily bearded. He gave THE GIFT OF MYRRH. He furtehr writes that these three Wise Men represented THE THREE CHIEF RACES OF MEN THAT DESCENDED FROM NOAH’S THREE SONS, THAT IS, SHEM; JAPHETH, AND HAM: Therefore, the Arabian, Gaspar represented Shem; the Persian, Melchior, represented Japheth; the Egyptian, Balthasar represented Ham. Thus, through these three Magi, THE HUMAN RACE WORSHIPPED OUR INCARNATE LORD AND GOD. [Source: The Life of hte Virgin Mary, The Theotokos by Holy Apostles Convent)
"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