MUNICH: January 13, 2014
Nativity Epistle of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Vice President of the Synod of Bishops
“A light to shine on us by Thy presence, O Christ God;
O Light of Light, O Radiance of the Father…”
(Nativity of Christ vespers service)
The Nativity of Christ, my dear brothers and sisters, is “the most important event since the day when the Sun first shone, to the day until it dies out” (Holy Abbot Justin). On this bright holiday, the Holy Church bears witness: “Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world…” What does this mean ? It means that before the Incarnation of the Word of God, no one could see Him Who lives “in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16 ); but the Divine Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, Radiance of the Father, was born of an earthly Virgin, and brought mankind the wisdom of salvation—in the humble form of an Infant—as we live in our darkened, temporal and fleshly earthly life.
We now celebrate the birth of the One Who said of Himself: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12 ). But dear brothers and sisters, let us celebrate with awe and trepidation, for this light, according to the Word of God, is also judgment: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19 ). This meant not only the Jews who were contemporaries of Christ who rejected Him. This applies to all people in all times, even until the end of the world, to anyone who rejects the light of Christ’s Love, and instead loves the darkness of sin.
Mankind, fallen into sin, infected the original sinless world and plunged it into darkness, into the hands of death and the devil. Through sin and faithlessness even those of us baptized in Christ can fall away from the Lord.
In order to elude this danger, let us call to him, as the Holy Church teaches us: “O many lights of the sun, shine forth upon me the salvific light of repentance” (Octoechos). We should not tarry to answer this call of the Lord, because it is for this reason that He appeared among men, to defeat sin, death and the devil. We are granted the opportunity to become communicants of His victory, if we, believing without any doubt in His Divine Omnipotence, “put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12 ) of Christ, so that with His help we can defeat the dark power of sin and death within us and by the true promise of the Savior, become true “children of light” (John 12:36 ). Therein lies our Divine destiny, the aim and meaning of our earthly life. Today’s holiday reminds us of this: God Himself comes to earth in order to return man to his Original image, his origins, his Creator. God is born in human form by means of a Mystery, so that man can mysteriously be reborn from the fallen, fatal and perishable being into a god by grace.
Let us thank the All-Merciful Lord from all our hearts, for He calls us into His “marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). When at the end of time, the “Lord Christ comes in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works,” (Matthew 16:27 ), when this physical Sun will extinguish like a candle, those saved by Christ will be in eternal bliss in the uncreated Sun of truth, and will have “need no candle, neither light of the sun” (Revelation 22:5). There is the guarantee of Christ our God, born in Bethlehem from the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Amen .
Christ is born, glorify Him!
Nativity of Christ 2013