Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The glorious feast of the Nativity of Christ has drawn near. It is the day when God comes to us, the people. God, the creator of the Universe, God the incomprehensible, God the Great and Fearsome becomes Man; is born as a tiny Babe from the immaculate loins of the Virgin Mary. He, Who is everywhere and before all things, by some incomprehensible manner is contained in the womb of The Theotokos. The Cherubims and Seraphims, standing before the throne of The Creator, in horror and quaking cover their faces with their wings for it is impossible to gaze directly at the grandeur of God. And yet, miraculously, the whole greatness of God was wholly contained within the Virgin - the entire fullness of God was there, in Mary’s womb. For this, we call her “More honorable that the Cherubim and more Glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim,” for containing in herself the uncontainable God, this is incomparably more than simply standing before the His throne. We even call her “Higher than the Heavens”. Why? Because God “The Lord in heaven hath prepared His throne” (Ps 102:19) as David sang. If this be so, then what is larger, the Heavens which are the footstool of the throne of God, or the Virgin’s Womb, into which God entered in all His entirety?
Let us examine where this “Higher than The Heavens” Mary prepared to give birth to the ageless Godchild Christ. What sort of place was readied for the Creator of the Universe? It was not a temple, not a king’s tent, not even an inn, where there were no rooms. Think of this! God Himself is coming to us, and we find no place for Him except in a cave, in a stable, where we keep our livestock. By “we” I mean people.
Even when Fr. Joachim came to visit us here in Spokane, we were able to find him a hotel room in a more or less proper hotel. But for God, we could not. When we looked for a room for Fr. Joachim, we thought maybe we could find a cheaper room since our finances are tight. But Keith, Larisa’s husband (one of our congregation), not even a church-going man (for now, we hope), said that the value of the room depends on how important this man is to us. And we decided that if this is how we express our love for him, then we can certainly fork over the money for a pricier room. And then there is God Himself. And this is how we expressed our love for Him - born in a stable, swaddled in a plain cloth, and is offered not even a bed but a manger from which we feed our cattle. This was one of the first illustrations of our love for Him in the New Testament.
Could we tolerate such a welcome? I do not think we could. Just imagine that you have been sent on a trip for work. You expect conditions that correspond to your position. So you fly into this other city, you are met and taken where? Do you think it’s a 5-star hotel? No, they take you in your business suit to a stable and point you to a haystack mixed with the winter’s manure in an unheated building. What would your reaction be? Our consternation would know no bounds. And why? Because we are sick with pride, feeling our own importance. Christ was humble of heart. Thus He teaches us humility on the very day of His birth, as if saying “If I, the Maker of the Universe, do not abhor this reception, then what are you unsatisfied with? Did someone somewhere look at you wrong? Did they say something wrong? Did they treat you badly? Remember me at this moment and ‘learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’” (Matthew 11:29).
Let us learn from Him so that we may be full with gladness on this, the greatest day in the history of mankind. Why do we lack joy? Or why is there no peace in our soul? Because there is no humility there. Where there is no humility, there can be no joy, no peace, but always dissatisfaction, irritation and unease. Therefore, if we want joy in our souls, before this there must be born the humility of Christ. Only in this way can we learn from Him, if He will be in us. There is no other way.
If we look into our heart, we will see that it does not look like a church, or a palace or even a hotel. Our heart looks like a dark cave, where live bestial passions: anger, impurity, pride… It’s obvious that we are sick in our souls. It’s especially clear when looked at from aside, isn’t it? But let us not despair in our recovery! For this God comes to us, to heal us, so that we may change. And fortunately for us, God is not prideful, He joyfully comes into the unbefitting cave of our heart. However, first of all, before God may be born in our heart, the Mother of God must come first. Why? Can’t this happen without Her, as some would claim? What, pray tell, is so special about Her? It’s very simple. Without her it can not happen. And especially, even more than especially, an absolutely unthinkable miracle is that from Her is born the God-child. This is how God arranged his coming - through the Virgin Mary. She is the “Doorway of Heaven”, through which Christ comes into our world. So come, please come Immaculate One, into the darkness of our heart! Abhor not, Immaculate One, our impurity! And let your Divine Son, the God-child Jesus Christ be born in the stable of our soul, and let us now with the Angels cry unto Him: “Glory to God on the highest and on Earth peace and goodwill among Men!” (Luke 2:14). Amen.