"Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14)
The joyous message that the angel brought to the shepherds of Bethlehem we hear in the glorious Divine Liturgy of Christmas: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Along with this message, a multitude of armies of angels was heard who glorified God, saying, Glory to God is in the highest, on earth peace and love and salvation to men.
Brothers and sisters,
The mystery of God’s philanthropy is inconceivable and incomprehensible! His Son and Word, Who is consubstantial and coeternal with God the Father, took on the human flesh from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, taking the human form without undergoing change: "The Word became and dwelt among us" (John 1:14 ).
What a miraculous event! The Lord of glory, the Lord of Powers, Who holds the universe in His hand, enters into His own creation as a poor, humble and marginal being. St. John Chrysostomos wonders: "What is cheaper than a cave? What is more humble than a manger?"
The Son of God becomes also the Son of Man! He takes on the human nature in His divine nature, inexplicably and indivisibly, in order to lead it, though His voluntary Passion and Resurrection, from the deterioration of death into life eternal.
Christ invites us to love Him, to trust our life in Him and to allow Him to live in our being, so that each one of us may be worthy of having the same shocking spiritual experience as St. Paul declares in his Epistle to the Galatians: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
In the Scriptures, God's desire to dwell among the people is clearly formulated: "I will dwell in them and walk among them" (2 Corinthians 6:16). We humans do experience this divine condescension, especially when we receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Characteristic is the prayer we recite during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, as we approach to receive the life-giving mysteries, asking God to be “united with your Christ,… Thus, your Word having his abode in us and walking in our midst, O Lord, we become the temple of your all-holy and adorable Spirit”. Another similar prayer is included in the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: "With the pure witness of our conscience, receiving a portion of your blessed Gifts, we may be united to the Holy Body and Blood of your Christ; and that, receiving them worthily, we may have Christ dwelling in our hearts”.
So, each time we prepare properly and receive the Pure and Life-giving Mysteries, our heart becomes a hospitable manger for Christ to dwell in it, and we celebrate Christmas as a personal event!
When Christ is living within us, no fear can affects us. Whatever the difficulties may be in our daily struggle, we draw strength from Christ. We courageously deal with illnesses, deprivation, injustice, adverse circumstances and various sorrows, persecution, even a martyr's death. Together with Apostle Paul, we also exclaim: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
The Prophet Isaiah, eight hundred years before the Birth of Jesus, had announced the coming of the Redeemer, Whom the people would call Emmanuel, meaning "God is with us." The shocking fact is that the Savior has come, He became a man, so that He may always stay with us and we with Him. God is always close to the people, but now it is clearly obvious, "He was seen upon the earth and lived among men” (Baruch 3:38), and all human beings recognize Him and cry out: , "God is with us", here is " Emmanuel".
God is with us, in order to give us courage, to give us comfort, to give us hope, and to hold us by the hand to stand up, every time we stumble and fall because of human weakness and carelessness. Above all, it is He who raises us from the grave and takes us with Him in his resurrected presence.
My beloved brothers and sisters,
With Christ in your hearts, in your thoughts and in your expectations, I wish you to all of you to celebrate a Joyous, Blessed and Holy Christmas!
With warm paternal love,
+ Sotirios of Pisidia