Beloved of |Christ fathers brothers and sisters!
I greet you with the great feast of the Nativity of Christ!
In the gospel reading of the Matins service of the feast of the Nativity we read about the the announcement to Joseph by the Archangel Gabriel who explained the nature of this Son born of the Virgin Mary. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins. (Matt 1, 21)
The Savior already at this time knew who these people of His were, and how to save them.
A multitude of people will yet come into this contemporary world, and many will leave this world for the next life. The eternal life. Our Savior will always know who are “His people.” These people, no one can separate from our Lord, as He revealed to the prophet Ezekiel, See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. (Ez 18, 4), yet many people do not believe this or bow to false gods or succumb to false teachings of who the Savior is, thus straying from the path of salvation. Of these our Lord proclaims a different promise, But if anyone has a son prone to violence and bloodshed, who commits one of these misdeeds-even though the father never has- a son who dares to eat on the mountains and seduce his neighbor’s wife, who oppresses the poor and needy, steals, fails to return pledges, raises his eyes to idols, engages in filthy practices, charges usury on loans and takes interest, then this son shall certainly not live, having committed all these appalling crimes he will have to die and his blood be on his own head. (Ez 18 10-13).
Let geographical borders of nations change, let the ideals of this world change, let the quantity of people striving and understanding how to remain in the Church decrease, yet the Savior will always know these “His people,” who continually travel in this earthly life towards Him, who understand His Truth and faithfully try to save it unharmed.
The holy apostle Paul calls the followers of Christ strangers to this world, and calls them to be estranged from the ways of the world, I urge you, my dear people, while you are visitors and pilgrims, to keep yourselves free from the selfish passions that attack the soul ( 1 Peter 2,11) and to try, by a good life, to remain separate from the world surrounding them.
The Word of God and the Holy Fathers teach us not to cleave to anything of this temporal world – not its riches, pleasures or things. Our Lord Himself gave us a great example of humility by being born in a lowly manger. He was born as a stranger on the worldly path of the Virgin Mary. She gained what was foretold her of Bethlehem, Now at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census-the first-took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town in Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s house and line, in order to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Luke 2 1-5).
Let the contemporary world strive to restructure the universe, and ask us to join some city of this world and to endeavor in its works. For our striving to arrange something for any such worldly, our angels will not proclaim any joy, as such works are at the hands of men. This is all “Caesar’s to Caesar” Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar - and to God what belongs to God. (Matt 22 ,21) but for us Christians it is better to obey God more and man less, Obedience to God comes before obedience to men. (Acts 5,29), we need be more vigilant with our souls and spiritual lives. The angels rejoice at our repentance and striving to do any good acts.
The Savior has His own book for those who strive to be His. For us to embark on this path to Him and not struggle along the way, we need not engage in the matters of this life and this sphere. We need not participate in any conflicts, parties nor affairs of this world. This good path is foremost as our lives could end before being written into this book of our Savior.
If we involve ourselves in divisions of this world, distracting us from the one thing needed, seeking the truth of Christ, then we will have no part in his Nativity.
In our days we often see a sad a dangerous scenario. The apostasy from true Christianity by orthodox people. Not by just ordinary lay persons and clergy, but by the hierarchy as well, who by the words of Bishop Averky of ROCOR follow, “a completely false path, foreign to the orthodox faith – a path of politics, ecumenism and matters of the world lying in evil … they remain completely Orthodox in appearance, but this is only topical and by manner – inwardly there is complete separation.”
This is why we always need to recall the warning of the Apostle Paul that, These people are counterfeit apostles, they are dishonest workmen disguised as apostles of Christ. There is nothing unexpected about that; if Satan himself goes disguised as an angel of light, there is no need to be surprised when his servants, too, disguise themselves as the servants of righteousness. They come to the end that they deserve. ( 2 Cor 11,14-15)
In the hope of the great mercy and help of the the Newborn Godchild Christ, let us try to guard ourselves from the coming sea of passions of this contemporary world, not entering into the general falling away distracting us from our own spiritual path, that by the words of the Holy Fathers, “to stand fast in the faith of the Fathers unwavering and firmly without deviation.” (St Job of Pochaev). Amen.
Christ is Born, Glorify Him!
+ Archbishop Vladimir