The meaning of Christmas is “love”, pure and simple! Unconditional love motivated God the Father to give His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to us as our Savior. Jesus Christ did not come into this world to
receive, but to give! Indeed, Christ gave His all for us. He gave up His Heavenly Home to be born as a helpless infant. He, Whose Throne of Glory in Heaven cannot be described, gave it up, living in poverty without a roof over His head. He gave of Himself in healing infirmities. He shared His infinite knowledge in His Holy Teachings. He then gave His life on the Cross for our salvation. Jesus Christ was not born into this world to give us material and perishable gifts. His gifts are love, forgiveness, and salvation.
God, in his incomprehensible and infinite love, has made His presence known to us throughout our entire lives, in times of joy and in the time of sorrow. God becomes one of us in Christ. He becomes our Brother sharing our sorrows, our weaknesses, our temptations, our suffering, and our death. Jesus comes to stand beside us as Emmanuel (God with us). He is with us in trouble- to see us through; in sorrow to brush away the tears; when we fall- to raise us up; in weakness- to make us strong; and in death to make us confident. How near, how approachable, how inescapable, every day, everywhere with ordinary people. We’ve received a Christmas gift that can never be surpassed, it is ever renewing, ever present, and will always remain new and perfect throughout eternity. God does not discriminate as we do, He is always with us!! We have His promise of His continued presence: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
As Orthodox Christian we prepare ourselves for this great Feast of Birth Of Christ with Fasting. Like other fasting periods, the Nativity Fast prepares us spiritually and physically to celebrate the Incarnation of the Word. We refrain from Certain food items as a symbolic way of purifying our hearts from all passions and inclinations towards sin. We empty our human appetites to welcome the One who alone can satisfy all our hunger and thirst. This stands in contrast to the whirlwind of activity in our secular society, which
focuses on getting, spending, eating, drinking, and partying. The Nativity Fast helps us keep our focus on the real “reason for the season:” the arrival on Earth of God Himself, in the flesh. Let us hold fast to this spiritual discipline and faithfully keep our eyes focused on the true reason for our Christmas celebration:
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It should make us think, and should bring us down to the realities of human life. In other words, we should better understand the importance and unique value of our Christian identity. We should not overlook the fact that this time is an opportunity to renew our faith and our relationship with Christ. We are invited to renew our devotion to Christ, to prayer and fasting, to voluntary poverty and frugality, to charity and simplicity of life, to honor and humility.
Thus the annual feast of Christmas isn’t about an “anniversary” celebration; it’s about entering into the search again, even more deeply. We may see God in a child, a friend or stranger, the flight of a graceful bird, the colors of a beautiful sunset, but these are all just part of the story. Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection are part of the story. These are all signs that the search for God is like a golden thread in human history interwoven into the tapestry of God’s creation.
May our thoughts, words and deeds become ways to carry out His will. We are to engage in the opening of our heart, mind, soul and body to the presence of the Holy Spirit as it takes effort to integrate the thoughts and feelings to become temples of His Holy Spirit. Let us therefore open up the depths of our soul to receive Christ. Let us close our ears to the sirens of wickedness and sin, and with humility and obedience. Let wait upon Him, that He may grant us His joy and peace and rekindle our dwindled hopes. Let us begin a new life, with Christ the Savior as its Lord and Guide, Whose Nativity Christians throughout the world anticipate with gladness and sacred joy. To Him be glory and dominion and oundless mercy forever. Amen
May God Bless Us All
Rev. Fr. Ninan Philip Panackamattam
Vicar & President.