“Today we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. There has been no event in the history of the world more amazing than the Nativity of Christ. The Lord God Pantocrator, who created the visible and invisible world and all that is therein with but a single word, that Same God humbled Himself, took for Himself Flesh of the Most-blessed Virgin Mary, was born in a cave, and as a helpless Infant, was laid in a manger.
Heaven was terrified, and the ends of the earth moved. A tremendous miracle and mystery had taken place, one utterly beyond the comprehension not only of man, but of the highest of the heavenly host.
For what reason did the Lord come down to earth?
There is but one answer: in order to save man. We should recognize that if the Lord performs this act for man, man must be of some particular value [to God], for [He] would not have employed such a means to salvation for the sake of anything worthless or insignificant. One thousand years before the Nativity of Christ, the king and prophet David had exclaimed in bewilderment [in Psalm 8: 4-5]: “O Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the Son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou madest him a little lower than the Angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor?”
We have even more cause to fall in fear and reverence before the Lord and cry out: Lord, what is man, that Thou didst not disdain a virgin womb, that Thou didst hide Thy Divinity and didst deign to become a man?”
What is man after all? The Word of God says: man is God’s finest creation. Man is the image of God.
All was created by God’s all-powerful word. God said: “Let there be light: and there was light…” [Genesis 1:3] “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind…” [Gen. 1:11] and it was so. And God said: “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of Heaven…” [Gen. 1:20] And everything happened according to the word of God.
When all was arranged, God turned to the creation of man, but only after, as it were, deliberation and counsel. In what caused St Gregory of Nyssa to marvel, God [the Father] as it were invited the other Persons of the Holy Trinity to confer together. For the Lord first said: “Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness…” [Gen. 1:26] “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” [Gen. 3:7]
The Lord created man by a special act: He first created the body, and then breathed into it the “breath of life,” i.e. he instilled in it as it were a portion of His Divine Essence. That is why in the Psalm [Ps. 82:6 KJV/81:6 Septuagint], the Prophet David has God say about people: “ I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High….” The Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ Himself confirmed the Truth of those words to the Jews who were prepared to stone him to death, accusing him of making Himself equal to God by calling God his Father. The Lord replied to them thus: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods…and the scripture cannot be broken….” [John 10:34-35] Thus, man is the image of invisible God, and has within him a “tiny piece” of Divinity.
Man was so fine and beautiful before the Fall into sin, and even more so after his redemption by the Lord, that Saints to whom the mysteries of heaven had been revealed, e.g. Makarios of Egypt, would say: “there is nothing finer than the human soul either on earth or in heaven.” Man was predestined for blissful happiness, but because of the devil’s envy, he fell, betrayed God, went voluntarily over to the side of the slanderer, the devil, and desired to know not only the good which he had known in paradise, but also evil, which he had not theretofore known. Having fallen away from God, he fell under the sentence earlier pronounced by God: “Thou shalt die.”
Adam and Eve were spiritually devastated. Their intellect became darkened and clouded, their will perverse, their heart twisted; where they had been given a heavenly body, they now received crude matter, like unto that of cattle. Because of them, the earth was cursed, and they themselves were doomed to sorrow and to knowledge of evil – that which they, on the devil’s advice, had sought to know. The more mankind multiplied, the darker and more sullied did he become.
Lest man fall into despair and utterly perish, the Lord promised him that in time the family of the wife (not the husband) – i.e. Christ, born of a Virgin, by the Holy Spirit – would crush the head of the serpent and would save man. It is this mysterious event that we now celebrate. The Lord took pity on His creation, and came down to earth, in order to save the sheep that had been lost to predators. He came down to earth in order to raise us up to Heaven once again. He took on the form of a man, took upon Himself the sins of all mankind, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”
Jesus Christ opened the closed gates of paradise. He rebuilt the spiritual ladder by which man may ascend to Heaven.
In taking on human flesh, the Lord raised man above the ranks of Angels, and robed him in glory greater than that of Adam in Paradise before the Fall.
If we are in fact true Christians, if we force ourselves to act on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had came for our sake, then we will also be with the Lord, as He promised his disciples in their final talk before His Ascension. The Lord said that those who are vouchsafed the Kingdom of God will become bright as the sun.
On Mt. Tabor, the Lord revealed to man his future glory. His face was like the sun, His garments sparkled like lightning. That external beauty and glory was but a tiny hint of the enormous glory that is within, for according to the prophet “…the kings daughter is all glorious within…” (Psalm 45:13 KJV/ Ps.44: 13 Septuagint)
This homily was written and delivered in 1945 by Abbot Nikon Vorobiev (1894-1963)