Nativity of Christ: Fear not and have faith

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember our Most Holy Theotokos, Saint Joseph, and most of all, our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Holy Theotokos and Saint Joseph, pray for us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.

Saint Macarius the Great, a Desert Father and Coptic saint, said of the salvation of Christ in His Nativity to our world. “Today the Lord is born, the life and salvation of mankind; today a reconciliation is made of Divinity to humanity, and of humanity to Divinity; today all creation has leapt for joy; those above sent toward those below; and those below towards those above; today occurred the death of darkness and the life of humanity; today a way was made toward God for man and a way for God into the soul.”

We celebrate the holy mystery of the Nativity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who came to the world out of His infinite sacrificial love for us. We celebrate His story, and the greatest love story of all. At the same time, let us also remember in the Nativity of our Lord and Christ, the humble beginnings of faith, that of our beloved Most Holy Theotokos, the simple shepherds, and that of the three wise men.

The nativity of Christ was a love story, and one of faith. While many would emphasize the salvation part of the story, we would like to point to the same story, the perspectives from us as Christians. Let us not forget the love of Christ our Lord for us. At the same time, let His nativity remind us also, what we should remember as well.

It all began with the faith of one seemingly simple couple, our Most Holy Theotokos, Blessed Mary, and Saint Joseph, who accepted the task of faith God has given to them, through the Archangel Gabriel.

The Archangel told Saint Joseph in a dream, “Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost” (St Matthew 1:20).

The Archangel announced to Blessed Mary, “Fear not, Mary, for thou has found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end” (St Luke 1:28-33).

Out of faith and love for God, our Theotokos accepted the responsibility of carrying to term, the Incarnation of our Lord and Christ, to the world. She would also lovingly take care of our Christ to adulthood. Likewise, Saint Joseph accepted the responsibility of caring and loving our Christ to adulthood before our Lord began to preach to the people. In the beginning of the story, what would we have done? When our God presents a scenario or responsibility in front of us, what is the story saying to us? What should we do? What should be our rudder to guide us through such a decision?

When Christ was born at night, who did the Angel appear to to announce the Great News of our Christ’s Nativity? The Angel appeared to the simple and meek shepherds who would labor tirelessly, for very little, and who had not much social status to shout about. The Angel did not appear to the high and mighty rulers, or the wealthy. Instead, the Angel announced the joyous news to simple, hardworking people of the land, with “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David” (St Luke 2:10-11).

It is gratifying that God often gave signs and messages to common people, from the prophets, to the common folk. Christ Himself chose common men to be His Apostles, messengers of the Gospel to the world. Perhaps the message from God is clear, unless we adopt the hearts of simple faith, it will be difficult for us to hear the good news because our egos would have drowned out the gentle voice of God calling us to Him. In our daily life, what is God saying to us through the gentle signs and messages along our path? Do we humble ourselves and have hearts of little children when we pray unto Him? (St Matthew 18:1-5).

And God loves ALL His creation. This was evident in the adoration of the 3 wise men, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar who traveled from the East to witness the Nativity of Christ. The Gospel gave us the hint, that gentiles can also find Christ, and thus the journey to God. The 3 wise men came with precious gold and incense, bowed down before Christ our Lord, all through a star in the sky, as a sign from God, leading these gentiles to His Incarnation on earth (St Matthew 2:1-12).

Therefore, the nativity of Christ also points to us, not only Christ’s profound and sacrificial love for us, but also, points us to having the heart of Christ when we view our brethren who are pre-believers. We are called by Christ to love God, and to love others as ourselves (St Matthew 22:37-40). Let our love for God and others be seen by our loving deeds and our gentle words, and not just our fervor and judgment. Let God’s Divine Will be done.

Let me quote Saint Ephrem the Syrian, another great Desert Father, “Now the day of mercy has shown forth! Let no one persecute his neighbor with revenge for the wrong he has caused him! The day of joy has arrived! Let no one be guilty of causing sorrow and grief to another person. This is a cloudless and bright day! Let anger be stilled for it disturbs peace and tranquility. This is the day in which God descended to sinners! Let the righteous man be ashamed to exalt himself over sinners. This is the day when the Lord of creation came to servants! Let the master of the house humble himself in similar love to his servants. This is the day on which the Wealthy One became poor for our sake! Let not the rich be ashamed to share their table with the poor.”

And in so many of the verses of the Holy Bible, we frequently hear of two words, “Fear not”. Let that be the two words we remind ourselves often, that we should not be afraid, as we walk towards God. God asked us to be like little children, who are bold and simple.

Let us remember this prayer of the heart as we reflect on the Nativity of Christ our Lord, and the courageous faith we are called to have for our God.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 1
St Matthew 2:1-12
Galatians 4:4-7