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Festal Message for the Feast of the Nativity 2024

Christ is Born, let us glorify Him!

Christ from heaven, let us go out to meet Him!

My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,

“The Only Begotten Son, Who is in the Bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (Jn 1:18).

It is with great joy that I wish you a blessed Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, Who made Himself of no reputation and took our human nature for our salvation.

This year, we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity for two days: the original date of the Feast of the Nativity on the 29th of Kiahk, which, this year, is Monday January 8th, and an additional day of celebration on 28th of Kiahk, which is Sunday, January 7th.

The joy of Christ’s wondrous birth caused the angels praise, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Lk 2:14). Likewise, may our Lord grant us a spiritual celebration and fill our hearts and homes with the heavenly joy, which no one can take away from us. To everyone facing any difficulty, may our Good Lord, the Giver of joy, fill their hearts and ours with joy.

As we currently witness many wars and conflicts, we pray that the King of Peace may bestow on the entire world His divine peace, which surpasses all understanding. 

Originally, God created man in His image and placed him in the Garden of Eden. God blessed Adam, used to talk to him, and Adam saw God. However, after the Fall, man lost the ability to see God. This is evident in Adam’s action when he and his wife heard the sound of the Lord: they hid themselves from the Lord’s presence among the trees of the garden (Ge 3:8). Moses asked to see God, but the Lord told him, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live”(Ex 33:20). Indeed, the Holy Scripture tells us, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him”(Jn 1:18), because “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Through the glorious Nativity, the heavens were opened and the dream of Jacob’s Ladder was fulfilled. Therefore, peace and joy prevailed over all who saw the Divine Babe of Bethlehem. 

  • When the angel appeared to the shepherds, he told them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

The shepherds were overjoyed with the glad tidings and came to Bethlehem “with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger”(Lk 2:16). After their encounter, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them” (Lk 2:20).

  • The wise men came from the East to Jerusalem to behold the Lord Jesus, and they inquired, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Mt 2:2). When they were informed that He was in Bethlehem, they went and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. The Holy Scripture tells us that, “when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2:10-11).

  • Joyfulness began from the moment of our Lord Jesus Christ’s conception. When Archangel Gabriel came with the annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary, she rejoiced and said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Later, when she went to visit Elizabeth, she joyfully praised God with very deep words and said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation”(Lk 1:46-50). Likewise, we also express this joy when we sing in the Divine Liturgy and pray, “Rejoice, O Mary, handmaiden and mother, for the angels praise Him who is in your arms, and the cherubim worthily worship Him; the seraphim, too, without ceasing.”

  • Also, the righteous man, St. Joseph the Carpenter, whom God entrusted to care for the Holy Virgin and Baby Jesus, rejoiced over the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Initially, Joseph doubted St. Mary and “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly” (Mt 1:19). But God revealed to him the mystery of the divine conception when the angel appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins”(Mt 1:20-21).

  • Elizabeth rejoiced when our Lord Jesus blessed her house when He was still in the Holy Virgin’s womb. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, she spoke with a loud voice saying, “‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Lk 1:42-23).

  • While still in his mother’s womb, St. John the Baptist leaped with joy when he met our Lord Jesus, who was also in His mother’s womb. St. Elizabeth said, “For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Lk 1:44) This was a fulfillment of the angel’s words to his father Zacharias, “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk 1:15).

  • As for the Apostles, their life with Christ and their discipleship to Him brought them joy, as St. John said, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn 1:3).

Yet not all who saw the Lord rejoiced. The scribes and the Pharisees saw the Lord in the flesh, but were unhappy. In fact, they wanted Him crucified. Therefore, St. Ambrose explained that we must differentiate between the vision of the Apostles to the Lord as opposed to that of the Jews. While the Apostles saw Christ in a spiritual manner, the Jews could not see Him beyond the flesh. St. Ambrose mentioned what the Lord said about Abraham as an example of those with a spiritual vision of Christ, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad”(Jn 8:56). Therefore, St. Ambrose reminds us that, “When we see the Lord, we see Emmanuel and realize that God is with us. But he who does not see God with him has not known the Baby born from Mary.”

My Beloved,

Let us rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus. When we meet and see the Lord Jesus, we will have great joy. But how do we see the Lord?

  • Through purity of heart, for “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
  • By serving the needy, because, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did to Me” (Mt 25:40).

Let us pray that our Lord may bestow upon us purity of heart and holy zeal so we can serve every needy person.

Let us pray for the peace of the Holy Church and for our beloved father, H.H. Pope Tawadros II.

Let us pray for all our beloved who have preceded us to Paradise, and among them Fr. John Botros and Archdeacon Jacob Abdelmalek. May our Lord repose the souls of the departed and give peace, comfort, and heavenly joy to their families and loved ones.

Wishing you many happy returns.

Metropolitan Serapion

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Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

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