December 31, 2022

A Christmas Message From St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna in 1912

The Pole Star of the Hope of the Nations, Christ the Lord, the Savior Born To Us
 By Saint Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Smyrna

"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great 
joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day
in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." 
(Lk. 2:10-11)

This great and sweet joy, this joy, which human lips cannot express, and the heart of man cannot understand, I proclaim to you on this day of the birth of Jesus Christ, or rather night, which reminds us of that most bright and great and most memorable night, during which the heavens burst and opened, and revealed to the human race all the infinite love and favor and condescension of God for us, all the ineffable glory and majesty of God, and all the divine and heavenly peace which supasses all understanding.

This great and unspeakable joy I proclaim to those to whom the joyous sound of the bells of the festive rejoicing awakens and calls, as the angelic voices and melodies echoed to the pious shepherds who were outside and keeping watch at night on the hills of Bethlehem, awakening and calling and leading them to worship in a manger the Savior Christ who was born and manifested.

I proclaim to everyone this inexpressible joy, that the Savior has been born, that the great light has finally shone upon the peoples sitting in the night and the darkness of ignorance and the shadow of death, under the light of which humanity has been walking for two thousand years since then, because the saving grace has appeared to all men, because the much-desired day has come into the world, the great and glorious day, in which according to the counsels of God, which were revealed in Paradise to the fallen first-created, the seed of woman was to crush the head of the serpent, to give grace and amnesty to the condemned, to bring joy and comfort to the laboring and burdened, blessing and sanctification to the vile and sinners, and the adoption and intimacy of man to God, from whom before man was separated by the abyss, and to whom the birth of Jesus Christ brought us so close, so that God now lives in us and we in Him.

I proclaim great joy, because the star has risen from Judah, which was awaited with such eager expectation and sweet hope not only by the twelve tribes of the Jews, in accordance with the old prophecies, but also by the whole human race, because from Jacob this star was also the pole star of hope and expectation of all the ancient nations and peoples of the East and the West.

"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people, because a Savior has been born to you this day, in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord."

I proclaim that not only the Jews were waiting for a Messiah and a Redeemer, but also all the ancient nations, which were either east or west of Judea, were nourished by ancient traditions, such as those about the coming of a Savior and a Redeemer.

The Egyptians, sitting under the shadows of their colossal pyramids, there where at the gates of the desert under the fiery sky with the Sphinx standing next to them, were silently and seriously contemplating the great problems of the world, of life and death, and where contemporary man has just begun studying this paradoxical country and its revered history, to spell out the mystery of God, the world, and man, these Egyptians, possessing the most ancient traditions of the human race, waiting for the Mother and virgin Isis to give birth to Heaven, who was about to crush the head of the Typhon.

The Hindus with their holy books in their hands, their ancient Vedas, whose appearance is lost in the darkest depths of distant ages, kneeling in their temples with hymns and prayers, gathering everywhere all that is morally excellent and beautiful and high and touching, gathered in the ancient course of time human piety, in order that their god in the end would reincarnate them, appearing under the form of a man and destroying the opposing forces of darkness and bestowing universal life on humanity. According to Indian traditions, this God in the flesh is called Krishna.

The Persians and the Chaldaeans believed that the good God, Mithras by name, would come and slay the malevolent spirit, Arimanius.

Confucius taught the Chinese that in the western parts of the world a holy liberating savior and benefactor of the suffering nations will descend from the sky.

The Greeks, the ancient sages of our ancestors, perfect in everything, those from whose hands came the whole civilization, for which today Europe and America are proud, whose genius radiates and paves the way to human thought, and whose immortal spiritual products and masterpieces were the reason for existence, and the link of the unity of the highest spiritual world of the most honorable and noblest part of the whole human race, these incomparable wise hierophants and mystagogues also prophesied about this Logos becoming human and the manifestation  and visitation from heaven to us: Socrates, the wisest of all men, he taught his fellow Athenians, that "they will remain in perversion, unless God, was sent to be among them to deliver them." The greatest of poets and philosophers in Greece, philosophizing about the origin and existence of physical and moral evil in the world, pointed to the terrible tragedy of the great Aeschylus known as Prometheus Bound, whose entrails were destroyed and under the form of a flesh-eating bird was in pain and distress, and whom the son of Zeus, the immortal Hercules alone was able and was to redeem and save and set free.

And the great historians and philosophers of Rome, interpreting the ancient traditions of the human race, taught that a mighty Monarch is about to emerge from the East, who will dominate the whole world.

The pole star of the hope of all these peoples, the life-giving sun of righteousness, the everlasting light of knowledge, the risen from the divine East, Christ the Lord, whom the whole ancient world longed for and desired, has been BORN. And all this ancient world before Christ, the one cursed by sin, the one who thirsts for the truth, the one who runs after the fleeing shadow of error and lies, the one who seeks and does not find bliss on earth, but who is always animated by the unshakable conviction of a Redeemer, of the future to bring the golden age and peace, which they always know, all this ancient world is evangelized on this memorable day of the Birth of Jesus with great joy, because this Savior, who is Christ the Lord, by whom the prophets of Israel above all was praised as the Mighty One, as the Sovereign, as the wonderful Prince of Peace, as the Angel of the Great Counsel and Father and King of the future age, because "the Savior has been BORN to us."

HE IS BORN, and not only was lost Paradise found, but the Paradises multiplied infinitely, because one such was planted in the heart of every believer.

HE IS BORN, and all the old things have passed away and behold all things are new.

HE IS BORN, and lived and was loved and adored in the consciousness, in history, in the prophecies and traditions of the whole ancient world, but especially of the Israeli people.

HE IS BORN, and since then all the great and eternal problems, which like the Sphinx were sought to be solved, that tormented the whole human spirit for millenia were solved.

HE IS BORN, and the iron chains of slavery, which had bound the body and spirit of men until then were destroyed.

HE IS BORN, and human thought was freed from the despotism and domination of the material.

HE IS BORN, and man was awakened from his spiritual and moral slumber and death, and the world, until then cold and indifferent, was taught the eternal laws of Christian love.

This is the joyous and great message, of which nothing either greater nor brighter has been heard since the beginning of the world, and no other will be heard until the end of the ages. This is the great joy, the one unspeakable by human lips, about which the Angel said: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people, because a Savior has been born for you today, in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord."

I proclaim that a Savior has been BORN to you.

HE IS BORN, but has He really and truly become a Savior to US? Was Christ formed in us? Was Christ the Lord born in the heart of each one of us? This day of Christ's birth has come, a day of rebirth for every Christian soul, a day of higher thoughts, a higher ideal station, to which each one of us is called to look, and we all can now look forward as a race and people of God that is beloved and set apart.

If the Savior was BORN only in the city of David, and Christ was not formed in the heart of each one of us, then surely the Savior was born for all, perhaps the rest of the faithful world, but not for me, and not for my soul, which dwells and will dwell in the night of sin and in the land where death has spread its black and cold wings.

But no, I preach the gospel to all of you and to each one of you, and always, but especially this year in these latter days, the old world from the East, under sin and iniquity, blows its wings, and is shaken from its foundations and the pre-eternal order of things is disturbed, for surely A SAVIOR IS BORN TO US, and a Child was born to us, whose head is on His shoulders; and for this reason we too are reborn with the born Saviour Christ, and being reborn, we possess this child Jesus as our resurrection life, as our rock and security, as our glory and freedom, Jesus who was born and incarnated, crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended, living and reigning, and coming again in glory. Amen.

Source: Ἱερὸς Πολύκαρπος Ἔτος Β΄ Σμύρνη, ἀρ. 90, 22.12.1912, σς. 1442-1445. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.