1953 Christmas Message
By St. John Maximovitch
By St. John Maximovitch
"All the angels in heaven make merry and dance today, all creation leaps for joy." (Christmas Compline)
Heaven and earth are united today: today the Virgin of the Creator of all gives birth. Eden brings a cave and a star shows Christ the Sun existing in a canopy of darkness.
A great and glorious miracle has taken place today: the Word is incarnate and is not separated from the Father.
Angels with shepherds glorify the invisible God, who created heaven and earth, and is clothed with light like a robe, who became a man and is seen in the flesh.
All the angels of heaven rejoice, seeing the Creator of them with His servants, swift and strong, like fire scorching.
The universe rejoiced, the creature brings gifts to its Creator who has united with it: the sky a star that shows Christ existing in darkness, the earth a cave that contains the One who lives in heaven, dumb animals their manger, which became the throne of the King of Heaven.
The greatest joy for man today: for the sake of us, and for our salvation, the Son of God descended from heaven, was incarnated from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became a man.
Rejoice righteous: the Virgin gives birth to God incarnate. The shepherds marvel at the newborn, the wise men bring gifts to the Mistress.
But what about the rest of the human race?
To Your Most Pure Nativity, Christ God, the first sacrifice was babies: the shepherds watched in the fields, the Magi adored and the angels sang hymns of praise; but Herod was troubled, sending an army to kill with fury the infant children in Bethlehem.
Other people, almost all, did not feel the coming to earth of the Son of God on the day of His birth in Bethlehem.
Some of them waited and longed for the coming of the Redeemer, tormented by the yoke of the darkness of this age. Others, captivated by passions and delights, enjoyed them.
But carried away by worldly cares, neither one nor the other heard the angelic singing in their hearts, and their gaze, drooping to the ground, did not see the light of the Star of Bethlehem. Only those closest to the Infant Jesus recognized then in Him the Son of God.
For the rest, that day passed like a normal day. However, the rays of the shining Sun of Truth warmed stronger than the scorching sun of the south and melted the frozen hearts of men.
Then the “now let your servant depart in peace” (Luke 2:29) of Symeon the God-Receiver was heard, and the “repent” (Matt. 3; Lk. 3:8) of John the Baptist, the disciples began to flock to Christ, who were sent by Him to preach, their voice went out into the whole earth and unto the ends of the universe are their words.
"The people that before walked in the darkness, this day have seen a light from the beacon on high. The Son offers to God the nations as His inheritance, bestowing unspeakable grace, where sin once flourished more abundantly." (Second Christmas Canon of St. John of Damascus, Ode 5)
Nations, already immersed in the darkness of old, having escaped the destruction of the enemy, now raise their hands with laudatory songs, honoring Christ, as a benefactor, who has mercifully come to us.
Now the star is shining again, announcing the birth of Christ, the singing of angels is heard in heaven.
Raise up your mind's eyes, far away, like magi; open the ears of your hearts as the shepherds. Today is joy in all the world. Christ is born, God is incarnate! Heaven is open to people. Sing to the Lord, all the earth, and sing with joy, O people: for us, for our sake the Young Child, the Eternal God was born! Christ is born!
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.