CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2016
(By His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Once again, the grace and philanthropy of God has deemed us worthy to celebrate the great and joyous feast of Christmas. One may ask: “What do we actually celebrate at Christmas”? The answer is that we celebrate God’s entry on this earth. The timeless God enters human History; the heavenly God enters life on earth in order to live among ordinary mortals!
One of the greatest theologians of the Orthodox Church, St. Gregory Nazianzus, also known as St. Gregory the Theologian (4th c.), admiring the mystery of the birth of Christ, describes rhetorically the great contrasts and mysteries hidden in the Incarnation of the Lord as follows: “the existing is created, the uncreated is molded, the unlimited becomes limited … He who provides wealth, becomes poor; and He becomes poor in the sense that He takes my flesh, so that I may become rich through His divinity. He who is full, empties Himself; He empties Himself of His glory for a while, so that I may taste His completeness eternally. What is the wealth of goodness? What is the mystery which surrounds me?” (On the Epiphany, Homily 38, PG 36,325)
These ultimate paradoxes and this incomprehensible mystery of God’s entry on earth astonish not only humans but also the “angelic powers, who marveled and cried out: Glory to your condescension, O You the only Lover of Mankind!” (Christmas Vespers) Humanity is unable to enter the depth of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God; neither can we comprehend it with our finite logic. For this reason, the hymnographer declares with certainty that: “This mystery cannot be fathomed, but we all glorify it by faith.”
The entrance of God onto the earth was done for a single purpose: “for us and for our salvation.” That is why God’s entrance on earth must also become a personal entrance for everyone. And in order to accomplish this, two preconditions are necessary:
- A) First, let us allow God to enter into our hearts. If we do not authorize His entry into us, then, out of respect for our freedom, Christ will never force His way into our hearts. But if we invite Him in a humble spirit, He will come to us according to His promise: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev.3: 20) Let us, therefore repeat, in a spirit of deep humility and repentance the following prayer:
“I am not worthy, Master and Lord, that You should enter under the roof of my soul; yet inasmuch as You desire to live in me as the lover of mankind, I approach with boldness. You have commanded: Let the doors be opened which You Yourself alone have made and You shall enter with You love for us just as You have said. You shall enter and enlighten my darkened reasoning. I believe that You will do this. For You did not cast away the prostitute who came to You with tears, neither did You turn away the tax collector who repented, nor did You reject the thief who acknowledged Your kingdom, nor did You forsake the repentant persecutor, the Apostle Paul, even as he was. But all who came to You in repentance You did unite to the ranks of Your friends, who alone are blessed forever, now and unto the endless ages. Amen.” (Holy Communion Prayer)
- B) In addition to humility and repentance, the second condition in order for God to enter our personal life is to not allow anything contrary to the evangelical preaching, which our society promotes, to enter into our heart. As we know, many contrary theories and ideologies circulate these days, aiming at luring us into their fallacies. Many pseudo-prophets try to replace the only true Messiah, Jesus Christ; new and shameless morals invade family and social life, with the brazen goal of abolishing Christian Ethics; modern technology is used without love and respect for God and human personhood, and as a result it becomes dangerous for the future of humanity; prosperity and a materialistic mentality slowly but steadily kill any desire for acquiring spiritual wealth; ephemeral “stars” of this world manage to convince modern people to cease following the “Star” that leads to Heaven. What we must do is to resist staunchly all such trends and temptations; let us close the door of our mind and heart to such messages so that nothing impure will enter and infect our soul; we should allow nothing to take up the position of Christ in our heart, Who came to earth in order to become “the King of kings and Lord of lords” to anyone who will believe in Him.
Christmas is the day of God’s entrance on earth and in our hearts. Let us therefore welcome Him as cordially and diligently as we can. Let us love Him as the only Bridegroom of our soul. And let us allow Him to become the leader of our life. Only then will Christmas become the gate for our personal entrance into the kingdom of God. Amen.
I wish to all of you, on behalf of Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, our clergy, and all our co-workers in the Lord, a Blessed Christmas and may the Grace of the Incarnate Savior keep you and your families protected.
With much love and special honor in the Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Metropolitan Ambrosios