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2013-11-24 message

posted Dec 8, 2013, 6:01 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Dec 8, 2013, 6:01 PM ]

On Thursday, at Orthros for the great feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, we began to sing the first set of katavasiae for Christmas. It is well worth taking the time to become familiar with these hymns and I would like to offer a few simple thoughts over the next couple of weeks about them.

Ode 1: Christ is born; therefore, glorify! Christ is come from heaven; encounter Him! Christ is on earth; arise to Him!* Sing to the Lord all you who dwell on the earth and in merry spirits, O you peoples, praise His birth, for He is glorified. The response of the faithful to the birth of the Son of God is to give glory to God for the great humility, love, and care for us that brought forth the Incarnation. God has come to earth in bodily form to open to us the gates of Paradise, to be with us through the trials and temptations of this life, and to raise us up from death to life. In recognition and thankfulness for what we have received, it is proper for us to strive with all our strength and trusting in and praying for God’s grace and help to rise up to the gift of adoption to sonship (cf. Gal. 4:5). So great and full of wonder is this gift that contemplating it and the eternal life in the kingdom with no sin, sorrow, or pain, that our hearts, minds, and souls are filled with joy.

Ode 2: To the Son begotten without flux of the Father before the ages, and who was lately made incarnate of the Virgin without seed, to Christ God now let us cry aloud, “You have exalted the horn of our strength, only You are holy, O Lord. The eternal generation of the Son did not produce a change in the Father. He was born eternally of a Father without a mother and in the body of a mother without a father. By His birth, our weakness, shown in our slavery to sin and death, has been turned into strength. In Christ, the divine and human were united in one person, so that, by God’s grace, we may be exalted, we may be lifted to mystical union with God. Such are the possibilities open to mere creatures through the incarnation of the One Who, though the only one holy (which in Hebrew has the connotations of separated, not common, and therefore the only One Who is totally other, different from anything in creation, being uncreated), united Himself with us and became a common man, born in a manger.

With love in Christ,

+Fr. Peter