Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
I wish all of you heartfelt joy as we come to celebrate our Lord’s Glorious Nativity. This Great Feast of our Lord expresses God’s “mouth-dropping” Love and Mercy for all of humankind! I say “mouth-dropping” in that Almighty God has done for us the most wondrous acts which our minds cannot even begin to comprehend. God the Father through offering us His Only-Begotten Son has stooped so low for us humans, in His humility, that He would take on our human flesh through His Incarnation. All this He has done out of His Love immense care for us. Plus our Lord Who created everything including the entire Universe, the world we live in and all of us has become an infant child requiring the upraising by human parents, learning how to speak and go through every human challenge as we have to, even to endure death for our sakes so that we may have life and have it abundantly, into all eternity! By taking on our human flesh, Jesus Christ has become the “standard” and the “way” for us human beings to strive and grow towards. Almighty God shows us His Glory through His Extreme Humility!
When we greet each other with, “Christ is born!...Glorify Him!,” we acknowledge His greatness and we rejoice in all He has done for us, at least in word. But how can we even adequately begin to glorify Him in response to all He has accomplished for us? Well, we can never truly and adequately glorify Him for all He has done for us, for nothing we can ever do will ever be sufficient. However, St. John Kronstadt offers these pearls of wisdom and guidelines on how we can move in the right direction to glorify our Lord.
Here is what St. John has to say: “What, then, O, brethren, is required of us in order that we might avail ourselves of all the grace brought unto us from on high by the coming to earth of the Son of God? What is necessary, first of all, is faith in the Son of God, in the Gospel as the salvation-bestowing heavenly teaching; a true repentance of sins and the correction of life and of heart; communion in prayer and in the mysteries [sacraments]; the knowledge and fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. Also necessary are the virtues: Christian humility, alms-giving, continence, purity and chastity, simplicity and goodness of heart. Let us, then, O brothers and sisters, bring these virtues as a gift to the One Who was born for the sake of our salvation – let us bring them in place of the gold, frankincense and myrrh which the Magi brought Him, as to One Who is King, God, and Man, come to die for us. This, from us, shall be the most-pleasing form of sacrifice to God and to the Infant Jesus Christ.”
+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ
In the Holy Season leading up to Christmas, the world is filled with partying, decorating and is in a shopping frenzy to provide the perfect gifts for our loved ones, while simultaneously the Church is in the midst of a fast from November 15th thru December 24th, suddenly breaking into feasting on December 25th, the Feast of the Nativity, then continues feasting without fasting thru January 4th of the incoming year. Unlike the Fast of Great Lent, the Advent Fast leading to Christmas has as its focus the theme of anticipation. The duration of the fast is an easier fast when compared with Great Lent, by the mere fact that there are lots of days where we are allowed to have fish, except for Wednesdays and Fridays. As we approach the end of the Christmas Fast the fast turns strict, for the most part, from December 13th thru December 24th.
There is a reason and logic to the Christmas Fast. And it isn’t to practice mere dietary restriction as a means in and of itself. It is about bringing proper focus and perspective into our lives. It is a time to focus on God’s Immense Love, Mercy and Glory, not that we shouldn’t always be doing this. We practice the fast so that we experience the True Joy of Christmas, which is to know and experience in our lives God’s Greatness and the salvation He offers to all of humankind. The trimmings of Christmas such as gifts, decorations, feasting and parties are only meant to be secondary and supplementary in our lives during this Holy Season, secondary to our fulfillment through God’s Presence in our lives, not the focus. The trimmings of themselves will leave us sentimental and happy only momentarily, but God will truly satisfy our deepest needs when we include Him foremost in our celebration of Christmas in a most everlastingly satisfying way. So the focus of this Season is to make room primarily in the “manger of our hearts” to allow the Lord to enter and dwell in them.
May the Joy of our Lord’s Nativity remain with you always, especially now in this Holy Season!
With Love in Christ,
Sunday after Holy Cross; Nikitas the Great Martyr; Philotheos the Righteous; Bessarion of Larissa; Righteous Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica; John the New Martyr of Crete; Afterfeast of the Holy Cross; Porphyrios the Actor