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December 27, 2022

Third Homily for the Day of the Nativity of Christ (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

The story of human affairs, no matter how entertaining, can very soon get boring, but no matter how much you listen to divine things, you will always find something entertaining in them: the more often you hear, the more you want to listen. On this basis, listeners, I now intend to tell the circumstances of the birth of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

When the Virgin Mary returned home from her relative Elizabeth, Joseph, Her betrothed husband, began to look at Her in bewilderment, for he noticed Her not idle, and, finally, when he clearly saw what She had a baby in the womb, he came to the greatest anxiety. In mournful reflections on this, he fell asleep one day. An angel appeared to him in a dream and said: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to keep Mary your wife. She will be the Mother of the Son of God; You will call the baby born of Her Jesus, that is, the Savior, because He will save people from their sins." Waking up, Joseph immediately calmed down and did as the angel told him. After this, Joseph and Mary lived quietly, peacefully and holy in Nazareth.

Time, meanwhile, passed, and they are waiting from day to day for the joy promised by God. Suddenly, from the Roman emperor Augustus, a command comes out to make a census for all subjects. As a result of this command, everyone had to inscribe his name in the place where he was born; Joseph and Mary, as descendants of King David, had to write their names in Judea, in the city of Bethlehem, David's homeland. So from Nazareth they had to go to Bethlehem. They arrived in Bethlehem in the evening. On the occasion of the census, a multitude of people gathered there; all houses were occupied. Joseph searched in vain for a place to spend the night; no one wanted to let them in, partly because the houses were all full, and partly because their appearance showed the greatest poverty (it is evident that nowhere is the poor liked). The night had come; they, weary from the journey, had not yet found a home. What was to be done? At the very end of the city there was a cave into which the herds were brought for the night. Joseph hurried there with Mary. In this place, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God. She herself received Him, she herself swaddled Him, she herself laid Him in a manger. Truly a majestic and glorious miracle! Heaven is a cave, the throne of the Cherubim is the Virgin, the manger is a receptacle, in which Christ God cannot be accommodated.

Therefore, the Savior, when He was born, met poverty, humiliation: He was born in the silence of the night; wrapped in scarce shrouds; rested on hard straw. And we, the listeners, want to rest on soft beds, and we crave to walk in brilliant clothes, we are looking for countless treasures, high honors.

Almost no one knew about Jesus Christ that He was born; Bethlehem was plunged into a deep sleep; only the shepherds found out about Him, only they gave thanks to God, who made them worthy to see the Savior; only the magi from the east came to the One who was born, only they honored Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Christian Listeners! Whoever does not give thanks for the benefits received, the benefits are useless for him: not feeling their value, he cannot use them. So, do we thank God for the good deeds that He has now shown us in His Son? We have gathered today in this temple: but has it really been a feeling of gratitude to God that has brought us here? We sing songs of praise to Him almost from midnight, but does the heart participate in these early praises? We are now ready to weep for joy, but are we ready to sacrifice anything for joy?

This is what I want to say: it is good that we have now come to the temple of God; it is good that now we left our bed so early; it is good that we are rejoicing today, but it will be even better if we leave off at least one vice for today, if for the present joy we make at least one person happy. To leave sin, to do a good deed is the most pleasing gratitude to God for Him, which we can bring to Him. Amen.