Our hearts are thrilled as we hear today the Angels’ message to the pious protector of the Virgin, Joseph. For Mary “will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus (the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua), means Savior, and we will see this joyous declaration become a reality on the holy Night of Christmas, when the Angel will again announce to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “there is born to you … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Significantly, the primary name of the Son of God as God-man will be Savior, and this is because He is the one and only Savior of humanity. St. Peter also made such a declaration in front of the members of the Jewish Council: Only in Jesus is there salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved” (see Acts 4:12).
That is why in the Divine Liturgy, as well as all other holy Services of the Church, we often address ourselves to our Lord as Savior, entreating Him to save us: “By the intercessions of the Theotokos, Savior save us”; “Save us, O Son of God…”; the singing of “Alleluia”; or the frequent repetition of: “Help us, save us, have mercy upon us…” in Church, where we implore Christ the Savior to save us.
An important question to ask is this: What are we asking Christ to save us from?
We already know from the message of the Angels to the shepherds that He will save His people from their sins; from the original sin of the first-created human beings, which like a contagious disease spread to all of humanity; as well as from our own personal sins. We can also see from the Savior’s miracles, that He is saving us from other painful conditions.
By freeing possessed people from the demons that had taken hold of them and tortured them, we can be certain that our Lord also saves us from such spiritual enemies. The cunning devil, no matter how powerful he may appear to be, seeking like a roaring lion to devour us (see 1 Peter 5:8), is proven in the end to be powerless to harm us. Christ the Savior, “who operates in us is much more powerful than Satan who is in the world” (see 1 John 4:4). The Lord saves us from Satan’s dominance.
We also know that the Lord offered healing in curing disease (even those that were incurable), and comfort for those who looked to Him. Not only did the sick receive care, but even those who had died, like Lazarus, who the Lord raised from the dead. All of this proves that the Lord saves us even from the power of death, which is defeated by granting us eternal life.
When we say that the Lord is our salvation from sin, from the devil, and from death, what we mean is that He saves not only the soul, but also the body (the entire human being in full). This can be clearly seen in the different acts of healing, like the lame man at Bethesda. After Christ had healed his body, He also healed his soul from the disease of sin. This is why the Lord said to him later: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14).
This saving work of the Lord did not stop after His earthly ministry, but has continued throughout the ages with His Church. Since Christ is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), the Church is the God-man Christ extending into eternity. In the Church, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit” makes salvation accessible to humanity. With the Holy Sacraments of the Church, a person is reborn into a new life with God. In this way, the Church offers sanctification in the life of the faithful, and helps humanity become like God. That is the reason why it is necessary for every person to come to the Church with faith and receive baptism, and remain united with the Church; to learn the truth found in the Gospel, fully embracing and struggling to live by it; and to be nourished by the Holy Sacraments, receiving spiritual strength from Holy Communion. A person should offer themselves completely to the loving hands of the Lord, and look to Him for their own salvation.
My beloved brothers and sisters, when we hear in the Church such invocations addressed to Christ the Savior, such as “Savior save us,” we have to feel that the Lord is present and listening to us. Then, this invocation of ours should come from our souls with faith and joy. For everything we need, we should run to the one and only Savior with confidence, with the certainty that He will shelter us with His loving and all-powerful hand. He will pull us out from the waves of temptation, need and sorrow, as He did with St. Peter. When Peter started to sink into the waters of the lake, he cried out “Lord, save me,” and Jesus immediately stretch out his hand and caught him (see Matthew 14: 30-31).
In these days especially, when we are waiting for the coming of the Lord in our midst, let us welcome him with gratitude, and remain resolute in entrusting our whole life and salvation to Him, Christ our God.