Monday, December 25, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos)'s Christmas Message 2017

Arabic original here.

Christmas Message

Christmas is the little Pascha. The blackness of the cave is the darkness of our hearts. The light of the little child is the light of our resurrection and the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, is His mother and our mother, as we are Jesus' brothers. The shepherds keep watch and pray and the angels dance and sing, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and goodwill to men." The wise men offer gifts: gold for the king, frankincense for the God, and myrrh for the one who will suffer and die for us humans, His creation.

 At Christmas, Christ comes to invite us to a great banquet, to invite everyone without exception. He gathers us from the streets and alleys. Coming in the form of a servant, He says, "Come to Me, I have prepared everything" (Luke 14:17). He comes wrapped in extreme humility. He is always standing at the door of our heart, knocking, "If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone to the world the light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshiped the stars, were taught by a star to adore You, the Sun of Righteousness... a new Child, our God who is before the ages.

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). He has come to dwell in the depths of our hearts once more, permanently and from within, as Saint Gregory Palamas says: He dwells within us permanently through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit no longer inspires prophets, as in the Old Testament, from the outside and temporarily: this is the new mystery. This is the great mystery forgotten by Christians occupied with worldly affairs: God Himself, Jesus God and Son of God incarnate Himself, dwells in man, His weak, sinful creation by the power of the uncreated grace of the Holy Spirit. What a great wonder! What surpassing grace! Saint John Chrysostom says: O our joy! O our misery if we do not accept it, if we do not realize it!

Do not fear or despair, O faithful, because even if the world today has rejected the incarnate God, Christ remains our only hope and our savior from the vanity of this empty world. Listen to what the Lord Jesus says to you in the Gospel: "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

The Word of God was born once according to the flesh. But, in His love for humankind, He wishes to be constantly born by the Spirit in those who love Him. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

Why this amazement at the Lord's birth? Some of the fathers say that one son is not born of two fathers. That is, they consider Christ's being Son of the Father as precluding His coming from a man. Christ could not be due to a man's desire.

Therefore Christ God was born of a Father without a mother before the ages and Christ the man was born of a mother without a father when the fullness of time came: "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born 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). Thus He shows people to be sons. This happened through Christ's humility and through our acting with meekness and humility. In this, His eternity is made new, through His appearance in the flesh while remaining eternal God!

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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