Back to Bethlehem

    12.20.17 | Articles Theology by Fr. Alexander Leondis

    At this time every year, we journey back to Bethlehem to witness once again God’s dispensation, God’s act of love for mankind, the incarnation of the eternal Word, the birth of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

    We go back through the centuries, almost twenty of them, to hear once again the angelic proclamation: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” We go back to relive and rededicate ourselves to him as our Lord and King. We go back to offer him our hearts, that he might be born anew in them.

    We return to the venerable cave of Bethlehem to behold the pristine beauty of mankind in Eden. We kneel before the manger in amazement, unable to comprehend how the Creator and King of all, lies in a lowly manger. Is this he, who in the beginning created the world and “formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” and man became a living being?

    The same Creator and King comes again to breathe into man’s nostrils the “breath of life.” He comes in the form of man, in the form of a creature; the eternal, limitless and infinite God is born an infant for our salvation. 

    By this second act of creation, the work of God’s hands, sinful, corrupt and unfaithful man is returned to Eden to fellowship with God, for which he was originally created. God comes down to earth, to raise man to heaven. The King descends from his lofty throne to elevate his subjects to this Kingdom. How paradoxical and strange is the divine plan of salvation? The laws of nature are disrupted. Philosophical truths are overridden. Reason and logic are replaced by the phenomenon of faith. Normality comes to an end when God put on our flesh.

    Awake from apathy. Arise above your human limitations. Strange and mysterious things are being revealed. Newness of life is at hand. Life, far beyond the limitations of this life is available; a life of faith, a life of abundance, a life in God, a life everlasting.

    We are called to become citizens of heaven. We are called to taste what we will be in our life after death. We are called to transform the entire world into an all-embracing mystical union with Christ, to convert all mankind into the mystical Body of Christ.

    By faith we see the paradoxes unfolding. By faith light is revealing new, eternal and permanent values. By faith we participate in the higher code of law, God’s law and not man’s. By faith we already live the life of the Kingdom in the Church and by the Holy Spirit.

    Let us, by beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, return this Christmas to that wonderful, peaceful, beautiful, holy and solemn night, to the grassy slopes outside the city of Bethlehem. Let us hear the words of God’s angels to the shepherds: “I bring your good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

    The substance and character of the gospel are revealed in these words: “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The way of Eden is once again restored to man by a Savior. The centuries-old Messianic hope is fulfilled: “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

    “The good news of great joy” transforms this winter season into an inner warmth of joy, for God is now with us, God has become man to save us from sin and grant us eternal life.

    No limit can be set on this joy. It is the joy of the ages. It is the joy of all people. The purpose of the Gospel is revealed in the outburst of the angelic host: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.”

    The humility the Lord underwent on earth is proclaimed as glorious in heaven: “Glory to God in the highest, for his mission to bring "peace on earth" and “good will to men” successfully began on that first Christmas back in Bethlehem.  I wish you a blessed Christmas!