As we celebrate the miraculous birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only blameless man born in human nature, let us remember the truly abounding greatness of His human
origin. Firstly, our Lord Jesus Christ came from God the Father.
“For while gentle silence embraced everything and night at its own speed was half over, Your all-powerful Word leaped from Heaven, from the Royal Throne, into the midst of a doomed land” (Wisdom of Solomon 18:14-15).
Indeed, the glorious Nativity bringing forth the miraculous human nature of the infant Lord Jesus Christ, gave all those witnessing His Holy Birth a glimpse of the “seen and unseen” —the invisible God the Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born one essence with the Father, yet in the image of man, of Whom all things were made.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15).
Our beloved Lord Jesus Christ was born of the invisible God, one with the invisible God, and abides in eternal majesty with the invisible God. While God cannot be looked upon, understood in all fullness, or located by geography, through the richness of His Holy Grace we were given His Only Begotten Son.
“He cannot be seen—He is too bright for vision. He cannot be comprehended, for He is too pure for our discernment. He cannot be estimated for He is too great for our perception. AND THEREFORE WE ARE ONLY WORTHILY ESTIMATING HIM WHEN WE SAY THAT HE IS INCONCEIVABLE…HE IS ONE, AND HE IN HIS ENTIRETY IS EVERYWHERE DIFFUSED” (Cyprian c.250).
Secondly, our Lord Jesus Christ came from the womb of a young obedient virgin desiring to comply with the will of God. God abode with the Ever-Virgin St Mary along with others from the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the wise men from the East as they worshipped and glorified Him in the small infant, His Only Begotten Son born of St Mary.
“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the Prophet, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,## which is translated, ##God with us.##” (Matt 1:22).
St Mary’s ever-virginity would “fulfill that which was spoken of by the prophets”. The Mother of God, St Mary’s virginity was never lost neither before, nor during, or after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus ChriSt He would be her first and last blood giving life.
St Mary’s blood, sanctified by the Holy Spirit was mixed with no one else’s and would pump through no heart other than our Lord’s. Our Lord Jesus Christ would indeed be her only Begotten Son as well as His Father’s in Heaven.
“For the life of all flesh is in its blood, and I give it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11).
Our Lord Jesus Christ came to intercede on our behalf that we may be forgiven for our sins. His birth allowed us to behold greatness, that of God the Father, His only Begotten Son, the Holy Spirit, and the greatness of an obedient young virgin. The magnanimity and glorious divine nature of the perfection of God were to be forever made known to the entire world, specifically on the night of the Glorious Nativity.
The “from Everlasting to Everlasting” was born to an obedient St Mary. Coming to intercede to God the Father on our behalf, our Lord Jesus willed to be born a sacrificial servant for the sake of our eternity should we choose to endorse this eternity!
“The power that governs all dwelt in a small womb. While dwelling there He was holding the reins of the universe” (St Ephrem, 4th century).
Greatness knows no boundaries nor can it be confined, confiscated, dated or minimised.
In troubled and unsettling times, we must seek the greatness of “the all-powerful Word that leaped from Heaven”. The Glorious Nativity had become the cornerstone of an eternal New Covenant through our Lord Jesus ChriSt Through this cornerstone and the life giving eternity of the Divine blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostolic Succession had risen.
Let us all follow the example of the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the wise men in seeking the image of the invisible God, the Head of the Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ and be steadfastly obedient in readiness while servicing, fulfilling what is asked of us, and seeking the One whose greatness was born of the Holy Spirit and the young virgin St Mary and whose Holy Birth provided the impetus to the Apostolic Succession.
Through the grace of God we, the Coptic Orthodox people, have recently been blessed with a new pope His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope and Patriarch of the See of St Mark and City of Alexandria. During such times of economic and political uncertainty as we are in now, let us all strive to support His Holiness as he begins a new directive of life and new focus of willing service as the first among bishops.
Keeping the precedence of the Glorious Nativity before us, let us all celebrate the greatness of the birth of the small Child Who existed before St John the Baptist, before the House of David, before Abraham, before the first man. To the One Who was born human while maintaining His Divinity, to the One Who shared with us all the glorious nature of God while embracing a human nature, all the glory and honour.
Happy Feast of the Glorious Nativity! May its glorious greatness and blessings dwell among and within you! May its joy dwell in your hearts and its peace preside all over the world!
His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)
6 January 2013