Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Are Our Doubts About the Nativity?

The birth of Christ is not something that can be understood. It is a mystery how God could become man while remaining fully God. But this is what we are about to celebrate. No decorations, no social gatherings, no gifts can help us appreciate the significance of this event in history. We can ponder the question of how could Mary remain a virgin and give birth, but this is only a small part of this glorious event. Surely if God can create the universe, He can become man taking on flesh through a virgin. How all of this leads us to great wonder and awe regarding the nature of our God, our Lord, our Savior, our Creator!

St. Gregory the Wonderworker says the following:

Neither with words would I attempt to speak of this, nor in thought would I dare to approach it, since the Divine Nature is not subject toobservation, nor approachable by thought, nor containable by the hapless reasoning.Needful only is to believe in the power of His works. The laws of corporeal nature are evident: a married woman conceives and gives birth to a son in accord with the purpose of marriage; but when the Unwedded Virgin gives birth to the son miraculously, and afterbirth remains a Virgin, — then is manifest and higher corporeal nature. We can comprehend what exists according to the laws of corporeal nature, but afront that which is beyond the laws of nature, we fall silent, not through fear, but more so through sin-wrought fallibility. We must needs fall silent, in silent stillness to reverence virtue with aworthy reverence and, not going beyond the far limits (of word), to be vouchsafed the heavenly gifts.

He reminds us that the only thing needful is "to believe in the power of His works." With faith all is possible and understood. Let us hold this wonder in Fath as we approach Christmas day.

St. Gregory says,

The new wonders do strike me with awe. The Ancient of Days is become a Child, to make people children of God. Sitting in glory in the Heavens, because of His love for mankind, He now lays in a manger of dumb beasts.

His way of coming is so significant. To be born in a stinky stable, taking as a crib the feeding trough for animals, shows the incredible humbleness and tenderness He chooses to come to our aid. We would never choose such a place for one of our children to be born. How different is He that comes to us as God Incarnate!

St. Gregory continues,

Moreover, He that is become the God-Man is born, not as ordinarily man is born — He is born as God made Man, manifest of this by His Own Divine power, since if He were born according to the general laws of nature, the Word would seem something imperfect. Therefore, He was born of the Virgin and shone forth; therefore, having been born, He preserved unharmed the virginal womb, so that the hitherto unheard of manner of the Nativity should be for us a sign of great mystery. 

How often do we try to hold God to the laws of nature, the laws He Himself did create! Why do we hear all the debates about how Mary could possibly remain a virgin? Let us let go of our limited rational thoughts and embrace the true nature of this miracle that occurred over 2000 years ago. Let us freely rejoice with faith at this event. Our hesitation in our belief is shown to be normal as seen by the reaction of Joseph who was not the father of Jesus.

Saint Gregory says,

Joseph did not dare to speak in opposition, and the righteous man did not wish to reprove the Holy Virgin; he did not want to believe any suspicion of sin nor pronounce against the Holy Virgin words of slander; but the Son to be born he did not wish to acknowledge as his, since he knew, that He — was not of him. And although he was perplexed and had doubts, Who such an Infant should be, and pondered it over — he then had an heavenly vision, an Angel appeared to him andencouraged him with the words:

“Fear not, Joseph, son of David; He That shall be born of Mary is called Holy and the Son of God; that is: the Holy Spirit shalt come upon the Immaculate Virgin, and the power of the Most High will overshadow Her” (Mt 1:20-21; Lk 1:35).

He says, he had doubts, but God sent an angel to comfort him showing the true faith he had to fight off his doubts. Let us pray to also receive strength to overcome all doubts we too may have and in the process strengthen our faith. God became man so we could visibly relate to Him and then join with Him to become like Him. In this way we enter into His Kingdom with eternal life

Since mankind abandoned God, in place of Him worshiping graven images of humans, God the Word thus assumed the image of man, so that in banishing error and restoring truth, He should consign to oblivion the worshiping of idols and for Himself to be accorded Divine honor, since to Him becometh all glory and honor unto ages of ages. Amen! 

Glory be to God in the highest!

Reference: Discourse on the Nativity of Christ by St. Gregory the Wonderworker 

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