Message from Fr Constantine, November - December 2021
A Word on the Feast of Jesus Christ: Fr. Constantine's Message
"Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
I greet you, dear brothers and sisters, with the joy of the great feast of the Birth of our Christ—with this radiant day! This is truly a day of joy: it was called this, as you have heard, by the Heavenly Angel who appeared to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. How cannot that day, in which the Lord Himself descended from Heaven to earth, be radiant and joyful?
Who among us Orthodox Christians can greet this day with a feeling of coldness? Who will not rejoice in his soul, hearing that “a Saviour is born today, who is Christ the Lord?” It is for this reason that one of the Church hymns sung so joyously today, says: “Let Heaven and earth rejoice today in prophecy: let Angels and men exult . . . the whole of creation danceth because of the Saviour and Lord being born in Bethlehem”.
But while radiantly rejoicing today, brothers and sisters, let us reverently remember at the same time that the day is one of a great divine mystery—as the Apostle also says: “A most devout mystery—God has appeared in Flesh.” This mystery is incomprehensible to our minds, it is comprehended only by faith. The Un-originate begins! The pre-eternal has a beginning! The eternal Spirit receives a beginning and is incarnate. Almighty God humbled Himself to the semblance of a slave, for He “took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (PHIL. 2:7).
St. John Chrysostom, in his homily on the Nativity of Christ, has this to say on the subject: “Imagine to yourselves that the Son had humbled itself and descended to the earth - not burning it, and not destroying it. but warming, lighting, and enlivening it! So it is that the Eternal Sun of Righteousness—Christ the Lord— descends to the little earth, to infirm creatures who are weak and sinful, in order to enlighten, vivify, and save them!”
This is the greatest miracle of Divine Love - God on Earth. God with us. Love performed this great miracle.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Therefore, how shall we respond, beloved brothers and sisters, to this immeasurable Divine love? Love ought certainly to be answered with love. May such love be manifest in our devout doxologies to the new-born God--Child! May it be manifest in our prayers of compunction to Him! May it be manifest in our most reverent sacred remembrances and meditations on the great mystery of the Incarnation of God! Most of all, may it be manifest in love and compassion towards our lesser brethren—to all the poor and unfortunate, to those who are forced to greet even this great day with tears, in want, in sickness and sorrow. Our Lord is so compassionate and loving that all which is done for them, he considers done for Him. May we always remember His words:
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”
Thus, in these holy days let the holy joy of the Birth of Christ delight not only our personal hearts, but also those who are in need of our mercy and our help! May we all celebrate and exult together, glorifying the immeasurable Love Divine manifested to us now and which has shone forth in the Birth of Christ Amen.
With Love, in Christ,
Excerpts of Eleutherious Vorontsov, Late Metropolitan of Leningrad, Translated by Fr. David F. Abramtsov. Edits and additions by Fr. Constantine.