January 3, 2023

1960 Nativity Message of St. John Maximovitch

1960 Christmas Message

By St. John Maximovitch

"Your Kingdom, O Christ our God, is a Kingdom of all the ages, and Your rule is from generation to generation." (Christmas Great Vespers)

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matt. 2:2), said the wise men who came to Jerusalem from the East. Herod the King was confused when he heard this. “Who is the king?” he thought. Will a child who is born, grow up and overthrow me from the throne and reign in my place? He thus ordered all babies in and around Bethlehem to be massacred. But in vain was the shedding of innocent blood. That Child hid Himself and escaped his hands.

And thirty years later, He, the Infant already mature, began to proclaim the Kingdom of God, crying out: “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). And He taught: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven... Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. 5:3-11). He taught as one with authority, and that authority manifested itself in everything. He commanded the elements. He cast out demons with a word, healed the sick, raised the dead. He saw through all the secrets of the heart. “You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49), Nathanael exclaimed when he realized that Jesus knew all his secrets.

But He resolutely rejected from Himself every manifestation of earthly power. "Who made me judge or arbitrator over you?" (Luke 12:14) He answered the man who asked to share the estate between him and his brother. He himself paid the didrachma (temple tax), and to the question of the Pharisees - whether taxes should be paid to Caesar or not, He answered: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and unto God that which is Gods” (Matt. 22:21).

He proclaimed the Reign, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and called to prepare for it. He foretold of His coming Glory. But when His disciples James and John asked to be seated next to Him in that Kingdom, He pointed out that it is achieved by humility and self-sacrifice, and the more one humbles himself, the higher he will be in the coming glory.

“Hosanna, blessed is He who comes ... the king of Israel” (John 12:13; Matt. 21:9), the people exclaimed when, after the resurrection of Lazarus, He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. "Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33, 36), Pilate asked when a few days later the same people demanded His crucifixion. "My kingdom is not of this world," replied the Son of God.

“Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews” (John 19:19) was written over Him on the Cross. “Remember me, Lord, when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42–43), the thief crucified with Him turned to Him and said. “Today you will be with me in paradise,” the Lord answered.

Having died and descended into hades to destroy it, Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, from where He sent the Holy Spirit on His faithful. They felt then that they were citizens of a higher kingdom. Something unearthly, incomprehensible to the mind, poured into them, filled their souls with strength and courage, enlightened their minds, gave them the ability to endure everything and neglect nothing, for the sake of their Heavenly King Jesus.

Almighty and omnipotent, He with the invisible rays of His Glory strengthened and now strengthens those who are faithful to Him and keep the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The anticipation of the blessings of His eternal kingdom makes both His Church and each of her faithful children invincible.

Let us also come to feel this and rejoice now in the Lord, for He is with us, the mighty God, the ruler of the world! God with us!

Christ is born!


Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.