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!