by Archimandrite Luke,

Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery

Decem­ber 25, 2016 / Jan­u­ary 7, 2017

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Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Dear broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ,

While con­tem­plat­ing the Mys­tery in Beth­le­hem of our Lord’s Incar­na­tion we are struck by the great con­trast between the extreme­ly hum­ble, sim­ple sur­round­ings where the birth took place and the majesty of the Creator’s divin­i­ty. How­ev­er, we must remem­ber that noth­ing acci­den­tal hap­pens in the scene we now look upon where every detail has con­scious­ly been arranged by the divine Christ Child, Whom we come to wor­ship today. All that we see demands our clos­est atten­tion.

We are obvi­ous­ly being taught a les­son in humil­i­ty as we gaze upon the low­li­ness of the con­di­tions sur­round­ing the Child, the pover­ty of His par­ents, the feed trough where he lays, the rus­tic shep­herds come to wor­ship him. This is clear­ly an illus­tra­tion of our Savior’s own descrip­tion of Him­self as one Who is meek and low­ly in heart (Mt. 11:29). Nonethe­less we can nev­er ful­ly approach the divine humil­i­ty and meek­ness that char­ac­ter­izes the God-man, let alone under­stand it com­plete­ly. Like­wise His suf­fer­ing, which though sim­i­lar to ours is in its essence hid­den from us and unap­proach­able. We are called upon by the Gospel com­mand­ments to acquire through ascetic strug­gle these virtues, which is imper­a­tive for our sal­va­tion. Ulti­mate­ly they are a grace-filled gift grant­ed by God to those who please Him.

How­ev­er, our Lord Him­self did not need these hum­ble sur­round­ings for His own sake. Had he been born in the most lux­u­ri­ous of palaces noth­ing would change, He would remain meek and hum­ble and no less divine. But this sharp con­trast draws our atten­tion to some­thing very impor­tant for our edi­fi­ca­tion. Such is the plan of the Lord for His own birth that noth­ing of this sin­ful world, no orna­ment made by sin­ful human hands should embell­ish the cave and detract from our con­tem­pla­tion of His divin­i­ty.

When we come to wor­ship the Christ Child today we remem­ber that this infant is He, as we chant in the Creed, “by Whom all things were made” and Who “will come to judge the liv­ing and the dead”. This is not the imag­ined “baby Jesus” of those who have fall­en away from the Body of Christ and lost an under­stand­ing of the divin­i­ty of our Lord. A true under­stand­ing is only revealed in the hearts of those believ­ers who wor­ship the Divine Infant in the spir­it and truth of Ortho­doxy (cf. Jn 4:24).

Dear broth­ers and sis­ters, this church has today become the cave where our Sav­ior is born. Let us not for­get that while He is present in His divine humil­i­ty and meek­ness He is also present in the majesty of His glo­ry. Let us there­fore con­tin­u­ous­ly approach Him with hearts bro­ken and con­trite but also with rev­er­ence and trem­bling!

Amen.