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.
THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY (Part II)
By Saint Leo the Great
Then, therefore, the Merciful and Almighty Savior so arranged the commencement of His human course as to hide the power of His Godhead, the crafty foe was taken off his guard and he thought that the nativity of the Child, Who was born for the salvation of mankind, was as much subject to himself as all others are to their birth. For he saw Him crying and weeping, he saw Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, subjected to circumcision, offering the sacrifice which the law required. Meanwhile, he inflicted insults, poured upon Him all the force of his fury. The unscrupulous thief persisted in assaulting Him, and went beyond the bond, and required the punishment of iniquity from Him in Whom he found no fault. The strong one is bound his own chains, and every device of the evil one recoils in his own head. When the prince of the world is bound, all that he held in captivity is released. Our nature cleansed from its old contagion regains its honorable estate, death is destroyed by death, nativity is restored by nativity: since at the one and the same time redemption does away with slavery, regeneration changes our origin, and faith justifies the sinner.
Having therefore so confident a hope, dearly beloved, abide in the Faith and in which you are built: lest that same temper whose tyranny over you Christ has already destroyed, win you back again with any of his wiles, and mar even the joys of the present festival by his deceitful art. Such men's hearts are wrapped in total darkness, and have no growing perception of the True Light; for they are still drawn away by the foolish errors, because they cannot lift the eyes of their mind above that which their carnal sight beholds. Let not Christian souls entertain any such wicked superstition and portentous lie. That power then, that wisdom, that majesty is to be adored which created the universe out of nothing, and framed by His Almighty methods the substance of the earth and sky into what forms and dimensions He willed. Sun, moon, and stars may be most useful to us, most fair to look upon; but only if we render thanks to their Maker for them and worship God Who made them, not the creation which does Him service. Then praise God, dearly beloved, in all His works and judgments. Cherish an undoubting belief in the Virgin's pure conception. Honor the Sacred and Divine Mystery of man's restoration with holy and sincere service. Embrace Christ born in our flesh, that you may deserve to see Him also as the God of glory reigning in His Majesty, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit remains in the unity of the Godhead forever and ever...
"...The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace: for thus says the Apostle, "He is our peace, Who made both one," since whether we be Jew or Gentile, "through Him we have access in One Spirit to the Father." And it was this in particular that He taught His disciples before the day of His passion which He has of His own free-will fore-ordained, saying: "My peace I give unto you, My peace I leave for you." He added, "not as the world give I unto you." But the peace of the spiritual coming down from above and leading upwards refuses to hold communion with the lovers of the world, resist all obstacles and flies form pernicious pleasures to true joys, as the Lord says, "Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also", that is, if what you love in below, you will descend to the lowest depth; if what you love is above, you will reach the topmost height. There may the Spirit of peace lead and bring us, whose wishes and feeling are at one, and who are of one mind in faith and hope and in charity: since "as many as are led by the Spirit of God these are sons of God" Who reigns with the Son and Holy Spirit forever and ever.
The Divine goodness, dearly beloved, has indeed always taken thought for mankind in diverse manners, and in many portions, and of His mercy has imparted many gifts of His Providence to the ages of old. But in these later times has exceeded all the abundance of His usual kindness, when in Christ the very Mercy has descended to sinners, the very Truth to those that are astray, and very Life to those that are dead; so that the Logos/Word, which is Co-Eternal and Co-Equal with the Father, might take our humble nature into union with His Godhead, and, being born God of God, might also be born Man of man. This was indeed promised from the foundation of the world, and has always been prophesied by many facts and words. For the Lord says to Abraham: "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed;" hence the Lord again says through Isaiah: "behold a virgin shall conceive in her womb, and shall bear a Son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, God with us," and again, "a rod shall come forth from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall arise from his root."
Let the righteous, then rejoice in the Lord, and let the hearts of believers turn to God's praise, and the sons of men confess His wondrous acts. That after His great gift to mankind in making us after His image, He contributed far more largely to our restoration when the Lord Himself took on Him "the form of a slave." For the first man received the substance of flesh from the earth, and was quickened with a rational spirit by the in-breathing of his Creator, so that living after the image and likeness of his Maker, he might preserve the form of God's goodness and righteousness as in a bright mirror. But because he trusted the envious deceiver, not only did that tone man, in him all the came after him also hear the verdict: "earth thou art, and unto earth, shalt thou go," "as in the earthly," therefore, "such are they also that are earthy," and on one is immortal, because no one is heavenly...
But you, dearly beloved, whom I address in no less earnest terms than those of the blessed Apostle Peter, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession," built upon the impregnable rock, Christ, and joined to the Lord our Savior by His true assumption of our flesh, remain firm in that Faith, which you have professed before many witnesses, and in which you were born through water and the Holy Spirit, and received the anointing of salvation, and the seal of eternal life. But "if any one preach to you anything beside that which you have learned, let him be anathema;" refuse to put wicked fables before the clearest truth, and what you may happen to read or hear contrary to the rule of the Catholic and Apostolic Creed, judge it altogether deadly and diabolical. Be not carried away by their deceitful keeping of sham and pretended fasts, to the destroying of men's souls.
A mighty bulwark is a sound faith, a True faith, to which nothing has to be added or taken away: because unless it is one, it is no faith, as the Apostle says, "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all." Cling to this unity, dearly beloved, with minds unshaken, and in it "follow after" all "holiness," in it carry out the Lord's commands, because "without faith it is impossible to please God," and without it nothing is holy, nothing is pure, nothing is alive: "for the just lives by faith," and he who lives by the devil's deception loses it, is dead though living, because as righteousness is gained by faith, so too by a true faith is eternal life gained, as says our Lord and Savior. And this is Life Eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou has sent. May He make you to advance and persevere to the end, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
(Source: edited by Father George Mastrantonis, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and published by OLOGOS)
MY BLESSING 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 Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in the Holy Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God