Homily on the Nativity of our Lord

Homily on the Nativity of our Lord
at the completion of Divine Liturgy
December 25, 2020 / January 7, 2021

by His Grace Luke,
Bishop of Syracuse

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

The Gospel account of the Nativ­i­ty of Christ is filled with joy and light. In the sky, we see the angel­ic star, the host of angels appear in glo­ry, hymn­ing the New­born Sav­iour, bring­ing peace on earth, good will toward men.1 The Church pro­claims, “Be glad, O ye right­eous! Rejoice, O Heav­ens, leap up ye moun­tains, for Christ hath been born!” Our hearts are moved to sweet com­punc­tion when we see the hum­ble, mod­est sur­round­ings in the cave where the Christ-child desired to be born, not sim­ply a child, but the God-child, before whom angels and men worship.

Once again, today we must remind our­selves of the rea­son for this cel­e­bra­tion. The Lord tells us that He was born to suf­fer, die and res­ur­rect, to save us from hell and eter­nal tor­ment. Does any­one even briefly pause to reflect on hell, judge­ment, eter­ni­ty, and the need to give an answer to God for our life? Sad­ly — espe­cial­ly now, with the cur­rent health issues — peo­ple think only of phys­i­cal death; they live in fear, hor­ror, anx­i­ety, trep­i­da­tion. How­ev­er, we Ortho­dox Chris­tians recall the words of our Sav­iour in the Gospel to not fear vis­i­ble or invis­i­ble ene­mies who can kill only the body, but rather to fear God, Who can kill the body and send the soul to hell.2

Our con­tem­po­rary cul­ture, a cul­ture of spir­i­tu­al death, would have us com­plete­ly for­get this real­i­ty. Let us, dear broth­ers and sis­ters, resist the temp­ta­tion to embrace this spir­i­tu­al­ly dead cul­ture and thus become infect­ed with the virus which will kill our soul for eter­ni­ty. How sad that those we love, our rel­a­tives, neigh­bors, friends, and gov­ern­ment lead­ers are mor­tal­ly sick with a spir­i­tu­al poi­son! How can we pos­si­bly help them? The Lord does not want even one of them to perish.

Rejoice we must today, giv­ing thanks to God Who is born in the flesh and offers us an anti­dote — a vac­cine to cure us of the spir­i­tu­al poi­son the dev­il has giv­en us. What is this cure? It is a life accord­ing to Christ’s com­mand­ments and, most espe­cial­ly, to respond when he calls to us, Take, eat… and drink ye all of it…3