Saturday, December 20, 2014

Met Georges Khodr: The Divine Child

Arabic original here.

The Divine Child

What shall we offer to the divine Child who is born for our sake after the magi recognized Him in their traditions as God, King, and one prepared for sacrifice? What more can we say than this, when the texts read to us at matins have taught us that what Christ wants from us is expressions of correct theology, that we confess Him as Redeemer, eternal God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made. I say these things that we confess because some people here and their claim that they were raised Christian, do not confess this faith, do not celebrate the birth of God Incarnate or His Theophany, but rather commemorate Him as a great man.

There are many even in our midst who, if you asked them, would say that Christ was a prophet, a great man, a social reformer or expressions like this. However, we who gather in His temples come together to confess Him first as God and to accept Him as Lord. We affirm  that God alone can redeem man, that man is stumbling in ignorance and death and that if we want to escape this cycle of despair and spiritual death, then we only have to confess that the table is prepared for us at every feast we celebrate and at every divine liturgy, bringing grace from God Himself to heal us. Christ brought good news of this grace, poured it out on the cross, and caused it to dawn in the resurrection. The birth that we celebrate today is nothing other than the beginning of that path that He will follow from cave to cave, from the cave of birth to the cave of death: Christ in swaddling clothes, then Christ in graveclothes. Christ is a sacrifice from beginning to end, in order to show people a light that shines upon them as fire. In Arabic, light [nur] comes etymologically from fire [nar]. He in whom the love of Christ is aflame is in Christ the light of the world.

If we know this, then we will surmise from it the words of the Apostle that are read to us in the Epistle on Nativity, where he said "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). This means that Christ is the fullness of time and that we are not waiting for any time other than Him. We are not waiting for any place where we can live apart from the place of Christ. We are not waiting for any other idea. We are not waiting for another feeling. All things have been realized and now there is nothing we must do other than to receive, other than to listen to Him, to contemplate His face, to live from this face and to inspire others to Him.

Why are we able to live in the face of Christ and to extend Him to others around us?! This is because in Him we have become children of God. He has breathed the Holy Spirit into us, who will cause us to call Him "Abba", by which Jesus means "Father". This is a word of tenderness, a word of familiarity from a child to his father and mother. Therefore, we have entered into God's family. After having been born into a family of flesh and blood, we have been transported from everything that is earthly and fleshly and from every relationship in flesh and blood to a relationship of worship. In Arabic, worship [3ibada] is from slavery [3ubudiyya]. That is, we have made ourselves slaves of God. It is not that we are slaves, but that we have made ourselves slaves of the One whom we love insofar as we look at God Himself alone and obey Him. In this way we are born anew. We are born of the vision of love by which we see God. If He looked at us as we are in our sins, we would die, but He looks at us with mercy and encounters us in His fatherly heart.

Let us proceed in this way to the blessings of Christmas, born anew in a world that does not know God, that does not know the beauty of the Gospel, so that we may be a little bit of light in a darkened world and that people may see our works and praise our Father in heaven.

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