Eparchial Bishop’s Christmas Message 2012

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

My greetings on the glorious feast of Christ’s birth in the flesh are intermingled below with texts from the beautiful Office for the Forefeast of the Nativity.

The exquisite prayers from this Office of the Forefeast of Christ’s Nativity reveal the profound meaning of this feast, why God allows His Son, Jesus Christ, to enter into our world: Bethlehem, make ready, for Eden has been opened for all. Ephrata, be alert, for the Tree of Life has blossomed forth from the Virgin in a cave. Her womb has become a spiritual Paradise wherein the divine Fruit was planted–and if we eat it, we shall live and not die like Adam. Christ is coming forth to bring back to life the likeness that had been lost in the beginning.

By His own will, Christ comes to serve him whose form He now assumes. By his mercy in the richness of His divinity, He grants poor Adam a second birth, a wondrous restoration. Christ assumes our humanity to show us love, to love us, to share our nature so that once again we may share and live the divine life. We are fragile people; we fall into sin over and over again. But Christ draws near, bearing our flesh, and granting to all a divine rebirth through the Spirit.

When we look to our world we still see so much brokenness, even the prospect for peace looks bleak. The Middle East, birthplace of Christ and our Church and many of our ancestors, is war-torn with people dying each day because of political struggles and insecurities. The good news of Christ in the flesh in each and every Christian needs to be proclaimed louder and clearer. We call all to the love of God who sent His Son to redeem us from the bondage of the enemy. He delivers us who were made subject to corruption. Jesus is our only hope! On earth form choirs worthy of God. Christ, the great and mighty Prince, is born: the King of heaven appears on earth! God is no longer far away from us: The inaccessible God has made Himself accessible to me in the compassion of his heart. In His good will, He draws near to be born in the flesh as a man from the young Virgin in the city of Bethlehem… Now God is near, and He lives in each one of us who believe. We are the Bethlehem where He needs to be born: Bethlehem is within us. We are the new Paradise, and we need more and more to manifest Christ to our world: our immediate family, our friends and acquaintances, our communities where we work and where we worship, and to the world at large. If each one of us could be more Christ-like the world would be a better place in which to live.

Behold Christ is coming to overcome the Evil One, to bring light to the souls in darkness, and to break their bonds. Let us go out now to meet Him. As you meet Christ in this feast, extinguish your selfishness and provide a remedy…for abundant healing for all the world! Let the gifts of the Magi–gold, frankincense, and myrrh–be transformed in each of us to become gifts of faith, hope and love. During this year of faith, proclaimed by my Pope Benedict XVI, let us refocus our lives in conformity with the person of Jesus Christ. Let us strengthen our faith in this great mystery which the Father had determined from all ages…God becomes man, taking flesh from the Virgin. The uncreated One allows Himself to be created. He remains what He is; yet become what He was not: Christ the King of Israel is coming to the world.

The wall of separation has been torn down. The powers of heaven are joined to mankind; the angels celebrate in the company of mortals. With a pure heart, let us approach the spotless One, contemplating the Virgin who has become the cherubic throne, holding the God whom no space can contain and carrying the One who is carried in awe by the Cherubim. He does this to grant us great mercy.

Like the Virgin Theotokos we must all give flesh to Christ by the way we live and speak and act. Through Mary, the Son of God became man for us, so that through Him we might ourselves become divine, children of God the Father by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

I urge you to welcome Christ in each person you meet, to find Him in yourself and really feel His rebirth in your heart as you love and serve one another.

My love, prayers, and blessings to my entire flock, the Church of Newton, as we celebrate God in the flesh, Emmanuel, for truly God is with us!

Sincerely Yours in Christ God,
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton