Dear children in the Lord,
Christ is Born! Give Ye Glory!
When our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to be born from the Most Holy Theotokos Mary in Bethlehem of Judea, all of creation gathered to offer Him honor and worship. The earth offered a cave; the heavens, a star; the beasts, a manger; and the angels, a doxology. Following the star, the magi came from Persia to the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, to worship Him and offer Him their precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And we, beloved children, what do we offer to the Savior Christ? Let us offer Him our love, expressed by a God-pleasing life of virtue and righteousness, a life lived in accordance with the commandments of the Gospel. The Gospel teaches us to love our neighbor, to love even our enemies, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. The Gospel is the law of love.
The Holy Scriptures tell us, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the reconciliation for our sins (1 John 4:10). When Christ was born, the world was reborn. Human nature was refashioned, and the dividing wall of enmity which separated the race of man from God was abolished. The incarnation of the Wod of God was the perfect expression of divine love and charity. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).
The Lord came into the world to save us, but contemporary mankind has turned away from its Savior. It does not want to hearken to His teachings and follow His commandments. It is called to the divine supper, but tragically receives a foretaste of hell, for man worships himself rather than God, and is dominated by deception, hatred, lies, and uncleanness. The heavenly bridegroom awaits mankind, but the world delights in filthy desires and bestial passions. Nevertheless, on the terrible last Day it will be tried for its deeds and judged according to the law of Christ.
Let us therefore be mindful of these things and bring to our incarnate God a pure heart instead of gold, flaming prayer instead of frankincense, and works of love and mercy instead of myrrh. May the Lord vouchsafe us to praise him with spiritual joy not only during this temporal life, but also in eternity! Thus we shall form a choir with the angels and continually sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
May the grace and peace of our incarnate Lord be with you always. Amen.
+ Metropolitan Pavlos of America.
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Q. There seems to be a lot of variation in how people observe fasting, but my confessor told me to fast from oil on Wednesday and Friday. Oil is a pretty vague category, though, and I was wondering if I could get a more explicit description of what kinds of food and drink are excluded on strict fast days. Read more...