December 25, 2018

The Word Became Flesh: A Christmas Sermon of St. Justin Popovich

By St. Justin Popovich

On the day of Christmas the Word became flesh (Jn. 1: 14). This is the first and greatest “Good News,” the Great "Gospel," which God could give to man and heaven to the earth .

If you like, the entire Gospel of heaven and earth consists of four words: "The Word became flesh.” Outside this and without this, there is no other Gospel that exists for man, neither in this nor in the other world.

Here, there is to be found everything that human existence eternally needs in all the world, a unique and joyous message for matter in all its forms; from the harder and thicker material of a diamond to the most minute and inconspicuous electron and proton.

“The Word became Flesh”! This means that the Word became God‐flesh, in such a way that neither God ceases to be God, nor the flesh to be flesh. Except that the flesh in its mystical and real union with God lives and shines with all the divine perfections.

“The Word became Flesh” means: The Word became soul, God-soul, but in spite of this God remains God, and the soul soul. Except that the soul moves along the paths of the eternal and joyous mysteries of God in all the visible and invisible worlds.

“The World became flesh” also means this: The Word became sense, God-sense . And yet, God does not cease to be God, although He became human sense, which the human sense still remains human. Except that the sense experiences the divine infinity as her property.

“The Word became flesh" further means the following: the Word became a creature, God-creature, “He who is created, the uncontainable is contained” (St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 45, 9. ΡG 36, 633-6). By this, God’s nature does not lose its divine properties, just as the creaturely nature does not lose its creaturely properties. Except that the creature passes through astonishing transformations, which lead it from glory to glory.

“The Word became flesh” finally means: The Word became man, complete man, God-man. And yet, God remains in His divine parameters, and man in his own, although they are intimately uinited, undividedly and inseparably. Except that man appropriates all the ineffable perfections of God and acquires the divine eternity, and the divine glory becomes “co-divine", in the expression of the Holy Fathers. God the Lord became man to bring man back to his archetype, to his Creator, because man was initially created through God the Word having the character of the Divine Logos (Gen. 1:26 -27, John 1:9 and Col. 3: 10).

God the Word became flesh in order to bring the flesh back to its initial Word-centered condition, because “whatever was made was made through God the Word” (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1, 16). Since God the Word is the Creator of the entire creation, He is also the foundation of the entire creaturely edifice (cf. St. Maximus, ΡG 91:668 and 1308-­9).

Sin and evil constitute man’s tragic and irrational attempt to move away from God the Word from the foundations of the universe. God the Word was incarnated in order to bring creation back to its Creator, because He is its first foundation and basis. This is why the divine Apostle Paul rightly proclaims that Christ the God-man constitutes the only unbreakable and eternal foundation and that “no one can lay another foundation than that which has been laid” (1 Cor. 3:11).

Whoever lays a foundation and builds on this unbreakable and immovable Stone of the universe is “a prudent man,” his personality has been Word-established, i.e. he has been united with all the eternal properties of God the Word, and as such he remains unshakeable in all storms and hurricanes of human tremors and chaos. (cf . Matt. 5:24-­25; Rom. 8:35­‐39). By His becoming man, God the Word demonstrated that the Divine Word is the essence of our nature, the foundation of our human being, the basis of human life and existence .

Our descent is from God, this is why our being and our existence depend entirely on God (cf. Acts 17:28; Col. 3:1-­4). Indeed, according to its prototype and its inner substance, the entire creation is from the Word and for the Word (Col. 1:16-­17). To Him, through Him and in Him all things are brought back to their Word-­rooted (logosni) ancestry and existence; to the original holiness, to their beauty and power; to that “let there be” and it  was made”; to their own paradise . Because Paradise is in the Word, whereas outside the Word there is hell, it is on account of all these that the Birth of God the Word – Christmas – is a marvelous Feast for its magnificence, its mystery and its meaning.

By celebrating Christmas, we essentially confess and glorify the only true meaning and reason of human existence, human spirit, human thought, human sense, human life. Because on the day of the Birth of the Lord, “it was the light of knowledge that dawned on the world”, of divine conception, and filled the entire world to its very ends, and revealed to us the eternal meaning and reason of this world and of the human being that is in this world.

At the Birth of Christ, we received the revelation and meaning of both the mystery of human existence as well as the mystery of heaven and earth. This is why humanity is lovable; because it belongs to God the Word and, on His account, is rational. But the human soul is also lovable, because it belongs to the Word and is endowed with rationality. Human thought is lovable too, because it belongs to the Word too and, on this account, is rational; just as human sense is also such, because it belongs to the Word and is rational for this reason; In the same manner, human life is rational because it belongs to the Word. The world itself is also lovable to us, because it belongs to God the Word and thus is rational too; just as heaven too is such, because it is the Word’s and as such is rational.

With the Birth of God “in body,” the whole God was born into this world, the whole Truth of God, the whole Righteousness of God, the whole Mercy of God. Thus, all those who hunger and thirst for God and His Righteousness, salute, through their spiritual excitement and infinite love, all the creatures and the entire creation with the Christmas greeting: Christ was born! Whereas from the Christ-longing the depths of the creatures and the entire creation the moving response is echoed: Truly, truly He was born!!