My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON THE SAVING NATIVITY ACCORDING TO THE FLESH OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST (Part III)
By Saint Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessaloniki
And while Prophet Isaiah openly foretold these events, the Magi worshipped Him in person, bringing gold and frankincense and myrrh (St. Matthew 2:11, cf. Isaiah 60:6) to Him Who, through death, symbolized by myrrh, grants us divinely inspired life, of which frankincense is a image, and His divine radiance and Kingdom, represented by the gold offered to the Giver of Eternal Glory. On account of Him Who is born today, shepherds stand in the same choir as Angels, sing the same hymn, and strike up a melody together. The Angels do not take the shepherd's pipes into their hands, but the shepherds, surrounded by the radiance of the Angel's Light, find themselves in the midst of the Heavenly Host and are taught a heavenly song of praise by the Angels, or rather a hymn both heavenly and earthly, saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth pace" (St. Luke 2:14). Now He Who dwells on High and Reigns over the celestial heights has the earth as His Throne, and is glorified on earth as much as there (cf. Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49), by His Saints and His Angels alike.
But what is the cause of this praise from men and Angels together and this much-extolled good news which so gladdens the shepherds and all men? "Behold", it says, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (St. Luke 2:10). What does this mean, and what is this universal joy? Listen to the Gospel song to the end and you will understand. "Peace", it says, "good will toward men" (St. Luke 2:14). For God, Who was angry with the human race and subjected it to terrible curses, has come in the flesh, granting His peace and reconciling them to the heavenly Father. Behold, says the hymn, He has not been born for us Angels, though now that we see Him on earth we extol Him as we do in heaven, but for you men, that is to say, for your sake and in accordance with your nature as Savior is born, Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
What is meant by linking God's good will with peace? "Peace", it says, "good will toward men". There were times before when He gave signs of peace to men. To Moses "the Lord spake, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11); and He found David a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22); and He granted tokens of peace to the whole Jewish nation when He came down upon the mountain for their sake and spoke to them through fire and the thick dark cloud (Exodus 19:9, 16-18; Deut. 4:10-11), but not according to His good pleasure. For good will refers to that which is in and of itself well-pleasing, the original and perfect will of God. It was not the original and perfect will of God that He granted benefits, and not even perfect ones, to certain men or to one nation only. That is why, just as God called many people His sons, but there is only one in whom He was well-pleased (cf. St. Matthew 3:17; 17:5), so He gave His peace on many occasions, but only once accompanied by His good pleasure, which He grants, perfect and unchanging, through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ to every race and to as many as desire it.
Brethren, let us preserve this peace in ourselves as far as we can, for we have received it as an inheritance from our Savior who has now been born, who gives us the Spirit of adoption, through which we have become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (cf. Romans 8:15, 17). Let us be at peace with God, and doing those things which are well-pleasing to Him, living chastely, telling the truth, behaving righteously, "continuing in prayer and supplication" (cf. Acts 1:14), "signing and making peace with ourselves, by subjecting our flesh to our spirit, choosing to conduct ourselves according to our conscience, and having the inner world of our thoughts motivated by good order and purity. Thus we shall put an end to the civil conflict in our own midst. Let us be at peace with one another, "forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you" (Col. 3:13), and showing mercy to each other out of mutual love, just as Christ, solely for love of us, had mercy on us and for our sake came down to us. Then, recalled from the sinful fall through His help and grace, and lifted high above this world by virtues, we may have our citizenship in heavenly places (cf. Phil. 3:20), whence also we wait for our hope (cf. Romans 8:23), redemption from corruption and enjoyment of celestial and eternal blessings as children of the Heavenly Father.
May we all attain to this, at the future glorious advent and epiphany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom belongs glory unto the ages. Amen. (Source: Saint Gregory Palamas: HOMILIES)
Please Note: I will continue to bring to all of you the true and genuine message of the Divine Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the holy writings of the Holy Father of the Orthodox Church. This is the only way that we can once again understand the real meaning of Christmas. All of us know that the Gentile world has attempted to remove Our Savior Jesus Christ from the Feast of His Nativity and replace it with entertainment and the giving of material gifts. The true joy does not come from material gifts but from Christ our Savior! Christmas is Christ!! Christmas is the salvation of the world!
In Orthodox Christian countries all over the world, Christmas is a religious Holy Day and it celebrated in church through and in the Divine Liturgy. We, as Orthodox Christians, are assembled to worship him as a family, on this most joyous and Holy Day. It is, for all Orthodox Christians, a day of agape (love). God is love and therefore His Incarnation, His Nativity, is the manifestation of divine love. Our Lord and Savior is love! Our Lord and Savior is peace! Our Lord and Savior is reconciliation! By His birth, heaven and earth are united and mankind is saved.
If, however, we cannot live our Christian faith, in this most secular and materialistic society, then, let us live our Orthodox Christian faith at home, the kat'oikon ekklesia (the domestic or home church).
This year Christmas falls on Sunday, December 25th, what a great opportunity to put Christ first, and for all our beloved and fellow parishioners to attend the Divine Liturgy. This is how Orthodox Christians honor and celebrated His Birthday and not with a birthday cake dedicated to Him as though He is just one of us. To be united with Him by receiving His Precious Body and Blood in the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Holy Eucharist.
It would be an affront to Him, on this Holy and Great Day of His Birth, for His followers and children, to stay home, sleep late, have breakfast and open up various gifts given to us; while the church, the House of God, where the priest is conducting the Divine Liturgy, is empty. Don't forget this day is His day and not yours! It is the Lord's Day! (KYRIAKI - Ημέρα Κυρίου).
I pray that everyone has been attentive, to what has been written, by one of the Great, and Holy Fathers of the Church, Saint Gregory Palamas.
MY BLESSSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God