THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
PART 4 CHRISTMAS 2012
Concerning the Annunciation of the Theotokos, the word annunciation is Evangelisomos which in the original Greek, means the good news. The good news is not for a few, but for the entire human race of every generation, because the Son of the Virgin, is the Creator of the world and the Savior of the world. Coming to us as a humble man, withoutfanfare, cameras or publicity, for He comes in humility and meekness.
THE REALLY BAD NEWS
Why is this called good news? Because it counteracts the really bad news, which threatens us. Because we are sinners and will be judged in the last days by God’s justice demands that we pay for our sins, small and great. Unable to escape, we will be condemned to eternal suffering. Our sins are numberless, and like glue they cling to us. We cannot rid our souls of our lies, theft, pride,
THE GOOD NEWS
Now the good news! The wonderful news! The news of everlasting life! The life where there is no sadness, no sighing, no pain, no suffering, but life everlasting replete with joy and gladness! The Annunciation is the beginning of our delivery from the fearful justice of God, which will punish sinners, for God’s justice being perfect, its demands must be met by all. But thanks to our God, for the Son to be born of the Virgin, the Christ He will save us from our sins and from the just and divine judgment or second eternal death. We should all rejoice greatly for He will suffer for our sins, and His suffering and death, will open the floodgates of God’s mercy! His Third-day glorious Resurrection will result in our resurrection as well, due to our faith in the true Christ and His true Church.
The Annunciation is the good news which benefits all humanity if they respond . We will witness the greatest of miracles – God becoming a babe in her womb! Reflecting how at Christmas we will see the Virgin clothing him, who clothes the whole world, feeding Him, who feeds the whole world, cuddling Him, and . . . Lord, how wonderful is all that you do for us, your works are filled with majesty! Soon we will see the Child adored by shepherds, shepherding their flocks at night, who learned of the birth from the angels, and the Magi bearing their gifts of gold, myrrh and frank incense for the new-born King, after a long journey having followed the mystical noetic star.
At the onset of her pregnancy, the Virgin prepares for a long journey; she will undertake after the Annunciation. Knowing that her cousin Elizabeth was six months into her elderly pregnancy, she departed to visit her. The noble words spoken by these two divine women when they met, have been immortalized in the Church for two-thousand years! Here is the entire episode – so important to the human race. It is some the richest text ever written.
"And Mary arose in those days, and went to the hill country with haste into a city of Judea; and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, that when she heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth, was filled with Holy Spirit; and she spoke out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold! As soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she that believed. For there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."
And Mary said:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the humility of His handmaiden, for behold, all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their throne and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped Israel His servant in remembrance of His mercy; as He spoke to Abraham and his seed for eve. And Mary stayed with her about three months and returned to her own house."( Luke 1:39-56).
These are the among the greatest words ever uttered by a human being. The Virgin, accepted God’s proposal from the Angel Gabriel, and was immediately filled with Holy Spirit. Two things took place; she became sinless as the effects Adam sin were erased from her soul, rendering her sinless. Her words being filled with grace are worthy to meditate upon. The Virgin is a deified woman, an image and likeness of God. The first virgin Eve also became the first sinner, who said no to God, and broke His commandment, causing enmity between God and man. Now the new Virgin Mary says yes to God and keeping all of His commandments, she brings to the world peace between God and man.
So many wonderful events take place at before and after Christmas, and we gather as church to celebrate. If we do not feel the thirst for this, or fail to experience a lasting joy, its not the church, the priest or the deacon but ourselves who are the cause. If we fail to experience joy, no matter what the circumstance it is because we are living only in ourselves, without living in Christ, and truly such a life is an empty life, a gloomy life leading to the path of despondency, and not to eternal life.
THE DOOR TO HEAVEN IS REPENTANCE
We have all sinned and drawn away from the Lord. We sin individually, as family in many ways. We cannot deny that we are sinners, as St. John the Theologian says: "He who says I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4). Also: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Assuredly the Lord loves us and desires to bring us all to himself when we die, desiring that no one perish, but the only way to this goal is Jesus Christ, who tells us: "I am the way and the truth and the life". He sent John the Forerunner to preach. His words were not theological exclamations, but were words understandable to each individual person. John’s voice cried out: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come!" The humble people who heard him flocked around him confessing their sins, as John baptized them in the Jordan River. He spoke of Christ the Messiah they had awaited for so long, saying: "I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, There is one who comes after me, who is mightier than me, whose shoes I am unworthy to remove. He shall baptize you in Holy Spirit and in fire . . ." (Mat.3:2-12)
John began his preaching with the word: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come", the verb 'repent' properly translated from the Greek means to "change your mind". Then Jesus came to the Jordan where He was baptized by John. After this Christ began to preach. As did John, Christ cried out: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come.
Repentance begins the cleansing process of our souls, wherein are many, as they say, skeletons and much debris, lies, thefts, jealousies, revenge, unreasonable anger, etc. It is truly amazing that when we repent and then go to Christ confessing through the priest, we know for sure that we have changed, that a heavy burden is lifted, through this ridding ourselves of the guilt that always accompanies any sin.
Christ demonstrates that the worst burden is sin and so He says: "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and humble in my heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mat.11:28-30) Sin is always heavy load and as it increases without repentance it gets heavier and burdensome, and can even become the almost unbearable cause of misery and unhappiness. This is why Christ continues to cry out: "Repent for the kingdom of God has come."
Now before Christmas, beginning on November 15 we entered the fast period preparing for the Nativity of Christ. It is not a strict fast, nor difficult to keep. It is a perfect time to awaken the spirit within us to repent, to confess our sins, heeding the cry of John the Forerunner and of the Lord to repent. This is not a command but persuasion, so that we may enter into the joy of this Christmas season with light and happy hearts and joyful song on our lips.