Christ is Born! Glorify Him!: A Homily for Christmas in the Orthodox Church


Epistle to the Galatians 4:4-7
The Gospel According to St. Matthew 2:1-12
Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!
            The glorious feast of Christmas is finally here, and what a wonderful and miraculous blessing it is.  For the Eternal Word of God has become a human being, a helpless babe laid in a manger.  Angels sing in His honor.  The lowly shepherds and the foreign wise men worship Him.  A young virgin becomes a mother, not simply of a Son, but of the Son of God.   And kings tremble, for this baby brings to earth a Kingdom not of this world.
            The good news is that Jesus Christ is born this day, not to judge or to destroy us, but to save and bless us.  He is the Second Adam in Whom the corruption of the first Adam is healed.  By becoming one of us, He brings us into the life of God.  We are made holy, we are fulfilled, we are raised to life eternal in Him.
            Our Lord brings His great joy to the world humbly and peaceably.  He does not arrive in the earthly splendor of a king, with the military power of a conquering general, or in the material comfort of the rich. Instead, He takes the lowest, most vulnerable place for Himself:  born in a cave used as a barn to a family that lived under the oppression of the Roman Empire and the cruelty of Herod.  Soon Joseph would take the Virgin Mary and the young Jesus to Egypt by night, fleeing for their lives from a wicked, murderous king.       What a difficult, lowly way to come into a dark and dangerous world.
            But when we pause to consider the glory of our Lord’s Incarnation, we shouldn’t be surprised at all.  For what does it mean for the Immortal One to put on mortality?  What does it mean for the One Who spoke the world into existence to become part of that creation?  What does it mean for the King of the universe to become subject to the kings of the world?  Let’s be clear: it means humility and selfless, suffering love that are beyond what we can understand.  For our Lord, God, and Savior is not a rational concept to be defined, but a Person whose life we are to share.   And so that we could share in His life, He entered into ours, sanctifying every bit of the human experience, every bit of our life, literally from the womb to the tomb that could not contain Him.
            The wise men and the shepherds show us how to respond to the unbelievably good news that God has become a human being:  they worship Him.  Let us follow their example this Christmas season by worshiping Him with our lives, by opening ourselves to the glorious transformation that the Incarnate Son of God has brought to us.  For Christ is born, and the peace and joy of God’s kingdom are ours even as we live and breathe in this world.  Christ is born, and we encounter Him in every human being, especially the poor, needy, weak, and outcast.  Christ is born, and we are made participants in the eternal life for which we were created.
            Yes, this wonderful news really is true.  And the only limits on the blessing of Christmas are those that we place on ourselves.  For the One Who comes as a humble, meek, peaceable baby in a manger never forces us or anyone else.  He is the Mystery of Love made flesh for our salvation.
            This Christmas, let us be like Mary the Theotokos who received Him with joy, like the elder Joseph His steadfast protector, and like the strange combination of shepherds and Persian astrologers who first worshiped Him.  Let us welcome Him into our life, for He has already brought us into His.
Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

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