Grace, peace, and blessings on the Feast of the Lord’s birth in the flesh!
The Nativity of Christ inaugurates a forty-day festive period celebrating the manifestations of God in the flesh: His Birth, Circumcision, Baptism and Encounter in the Temple. We celebrate a season of transformations: He is born to save us and to identify with us as humans so that our humanity may be restored to His godliness.
“All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel’ a name which means ‘God is with us’” (Mt. 2:22-23). St. Matthew begins his gospel with God’s presence among us and concludes with the promise of His continued presence, “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).
So often many see Jesus only in the past, born in Bethlehem so long ago. We need to see him in the present—God with us! God is not far away: He is a Trinity of Persons who wants to establish a personal relationship with us. He is one who cares for us, forgives us, shares our sorrows, helps us to bear our burdens, and reaches out to us with His loving embrace. Our festal prayers speak of God bending the heavens down to touch the earth. His greatest gift was not a code of ethics or a philosophy of life, but God Himself. “He imparts to us the heavenly life without leading us up to Heaven, but by bending Heaven down to us” (St. Nicholas Cabasilas). He is our most precious Gift, not wrapped in holiday paper, but wrapped in the flesh—Emmanuel, God with us!
On this Christmas Feast, He comes as a tiny, innocent child to set us free from the arrogance of our pride. His birth sets us free. As you participate in the Divine Eucharist, receive Him into your hearts and let Him be reborn in you. Bethlehem is within you!
May the Feast of our Lord’s birth and His manifestations in the flesh enliven you to be a living Christ in the world. I offer my prayers for you and yours during this blessed season. Know that I will remember you especially at our celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
With my love, prayers, and blessings, I remain
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton