From The Blog

A Christmas Homily- St. Gregory of Nazianzus +380 from December ’12 Newsletter

     Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted.  Sing to the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth.  Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.

     Again, the darkness is past; again Light is made; again Egypt is punished with darkness; again Israel is enlightened by a pillar.  The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge.  Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.  The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front.  The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them.  Melchizedek is concluded.  He who was without Mother becomes without Father (without mother of His former state, without father of His second).  The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled.  Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him.  O clap your hands together all you people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, whose government is upon His shoulder (for with the cross it is raised up), and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father.  Let John cry, prepare the way of the Lord; I too will cry the power of this Day.  He who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk until their tongues ache.  Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge.

     This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God – that putting off of the old man, we might put on the new; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him.  For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful.  For where sin abounded grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the passion of Christ justify us?  Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our master's; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation…

     The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.

     He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin.  He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor.  He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

      He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.  He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness.  What is this wealth of goodness?  What is this mystery that surrounds me?  I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it.  Hetakes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh.  He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

     Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son.  The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

     The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice.  When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.

     Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him.  The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.  We need God to take our flesh and die, that we might live.  We have died with him, that we may be purified.  We have risen again with him, because we have died with him.  We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

Share