Diocese of Western Europe
Nativity Epistle 2019
“The mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations has now been revealed to His saints.” (Colossians 1:26)
So does the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, call us to look upon this Feast of the Nativity and the incarnation of Christ as the mystery which has been hidden in God (Ephesians 3:9).
Who could have come to save us? It had to be a human because we humans were defeated by the enemy of our souls and a human had to now defeat this enemy. But alas all humans were already defeated by sin. Only God was without sin. Hence the God-Man had to come who is totally God by His very nature and totally man by His own choice.
In this holy feast, we see God on Earth and man in the heavens. How could this be? Wherever God wills, natural laws are changed. Christ desired our salvation and thus He lowered Himself to the earth.
The swaddling clothes of Christ announce the joy that our salvation has arrived! In heaven, Christ is the only-begotten of His Father and on Earth, Christ is the only-begotten of the Virgin!
That Virgin today pays back an old debt. The first woman came from only one man – Adam. Now this the new Eve, the Most Holy Theotokos, gives birth to a man without the help of any man. Then God took a rib from Adam and made a woman and now God takes flesh from the Virgin and the God-Man is with us. Adam remained unharmed after the removal of his rib, and the Virgin remained undefiled after the birth of the Divine Child. In the beginning, the devil deceived Eve, now the devil is cast down by the Virgin Mariam. Eve said an evil word to Adam that led to death, now through the Virgin, the Word is brought into the world offering life.
As St. Paul the Apostle of the Nations tells us, “The first man was made from the earth of the ground. The second man (Christ) is heavenly. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are of heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we (who have put on Christ) shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
God the Word received flesh from us and became man which was not His nature, that we may receive from His divinity the ability to become God-like and children of God which was not our nature. God became man and remained that which He always was. God by nature and man by His own choice.
Man was no longer able to use the image of God in which he was created to know God, so the God-Man and Saviour of our souls, Jesus Christ, the very image of God, came to us to recreate the image that we had been created in. The Word received flesh that man could be renewed in the image of God that he had been created in.
Now we can boldly proclaim “My heart rejoices in the Lord in whom my horn is exalted. My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, for I rejoice in Your salvation” (! Samuel 2:1).
Bending my knee for all of you before the Word that chose to become man,
+ Bishop Philaretos