The prophet Micah described the little town of Bethlehem, though small, but not overlooked, for greatness was destined to come from this obscure place of unimportance (Micah 5:2). Fulfilled and confirmed was his prophecy at the birth Christ, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matt 2:6). Christ entered the world in the form of a vulnerable infant, in need of shelter, food, and love. He was satisfied that a young humble virgin girl and an elderly modest carpenter would assume the role of parents in His early life.
The world too often mistakes gentleness for weakness? Kindheartedness appears to be an insignificant coin when it is rivaled by the presumptuousness of power and lavishness. Christianity is not meant to be an attractive religion nor is it meant to be easy. People struggle to love their own family members, let alone a stranger, go the extra mile, and even more incomprehensible, love their enemies, turn the other cheek, and give them your cloak also. Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to see the world through His eyes.“There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering” (St. Ambrose of Milan).
Christianity is experienced with an unparalleled love that perfumes a sweet scent of kindness and gentleness. The one that is hardest to love needs your love the most.Where God is, there is love. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1Jn 4:8). We must learn to look at the world through the eyes of a child, who innately has the will to be altruistic and knows to love and trust and forgive with ease. Though the child is small, yet his heart is bigger than all the heap of treasures one can acquire with wealth. These are the same attributes of Christ Jesus. He loves each of us, trusted even the betrayer and the one who would deny Him, and asked for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him. What is He asking of us today that He Himself did not do for us? He modeled simplicity, love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. This is the formula for Christianity.
To expound on the definition of prominence, Christ brought a young child before His disciples to teach them the true meaning of greatness. “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:4).Christ entered the world full of wisdom, but as an infant in great humility. Let us endeavor to acquire any attribute of simplicity and humility by seeing the world through the eyes of a child that is pure in heart and has no guile. “Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase” (St. John Climacus).
Children do not calculate achievements. Their happiness comes simply in being with a friend. Ambition and self-interest are taught to them by those who forgot the innocence of a child who requires very little to feel satisfied. Return to that child again. Be content with the little and you will surely be able with ease to disperse a greater portion when God gives you increase. Nurture a charitable spirit. Be patient and you will find something good about each person. You will learn to love and to give, not only in material things that are eventually forgotten and perish, but you will learn to give of yourself, kindness, gentleness, and sweetness. You will give more abundantly because your riches and pearls will come from the heart.
The Nativity season is a time of giving. Let this joy not expire after the feast is celebrated. Our Church commemorates the Annunciation Feast every month of the year. We rejoice in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ every day and show Him our heartfelt gratitude by loving and serving our neighbors with generosity of spirit and peace in our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To God is all the glory forever. Amen.
His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)
7 January 2016