What happened at Christmas

An image of Mary, Theotokos Glykophilousa

Theotokos Glykophilousa

AND so now begins the great adventure of man. He did not want to be divinised by God, and finally he attained it.

Within him there is certainly the desire and the craving; and man tries – a very long journey – to rediscover God. He created religions, philosophies, organised many systems, in an attempt to become God. But this attempt proved fruitless. Ultimately, man, could not be divinised.

And as time passed, so he saw how empty his attempt was. He came very near to the truth, he could not come into the core of the truth. He understood many things, he could not know and come into communion with God.

It was not a question of an ethical transgression, but of the corruption of human nature. And so man, although he wished to be saved, could not be saved. He reached the last rung of maturity: to feel that with God, it is not possible to commune with his life by searching high and low.

These things are the “ancient mysteries”: the sense that what man needs is not simply to believe in the existence of some God, but to meet that God, to commune with his own life.

And the  consequence was vanity. And there came a moment, in all the ancient world, when the impotence of self-salvation was realized. That man cannot save himself by his own powers. […]

WHAT happened at Christmas? “The Word became flesh”. The Son and word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, comes to take human nature upon himself. In what manner? By the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin. […] And more, “man became God”.

But why did man become God? The Fathers of our Church answer: “So that God might bring Adam to completion”. To make man into God. […]

So God entered into the history of the world. And how did he enter into it? As an infant. As an impotent babe. Why did he enter in this way? Out of respect for man’s freedom. God […] made us free. He gave us the power to say No – and he respected that power.

Even now, when he comes, again he respects our freedom. The Evangelist John says somewhere, that “as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become children of God”. He did not say, He made us children of God. He said, He gave us the power to become children of God – that is, the ability.

Now (after the Incarnation), if we wish, we can become children of God. And consequently, heirs of Jesus Christ. And to inherit the Kingdom prepared for us.

From ῾H ἐνανθρώπηση τοῦ Χριστοῦ (The Incarnation of Christ) by Metropolitan Paul of Sisanion and Siatista. In Πειραϊκή Εκκλησία (December 2009), the periodical of the Church of Piraeus, Greece.

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WHAT should we offer unto thee, O Christ, because thou hast appeared upon the earth as man for our sake?

For each of the creatures made by thee brings thee its thanks: the Angels their hymn; the heavens the Star; the Magi their gifts; the Shepherds their wonder; the earth the Cave; the desert the Manger; but we a Virgin Mother.

O God before the ages, have mercy upon us.

Vespers on Christmas Day.

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