Nativity Encyclical 2012
Τὶ σοι προσενέγκωμεν Χριστέ, ὅτι ὤφθης ἐπὶ γῆς ὡς ἄνθρωπος δι' ἡμᾶς; ἕκαστον γὰρ τῶν ὑπὸ σοῦ γενομένων κτισμάτων, τὴν εὐχαριστίαν σοι προσάγει· οἱ Ἄγγελοι τὸν ὕμνον, οἱ οὐρανοὶ τὸν Ἀστέρα,οἱ Μάγοι τὰ δῶρα, οἱ Ποιμένες τὸ θαῦμα, ἡ γῆ τὸ σπήλαιον, ἡ ἔρημος τὴν φάτνην...
What shall we offer you, O Christ, that you have appeared on earth as Man for us? For each of the creatures you made offers you thanks: the Angels the hymn; the heavens the Star; the Magi their gifts; the Shepherds their wonder;
the earth the cave; the desert the manger...
–Idiomelon, Great Vespers of the Nativity
What shall we offer? The Holy Nativity of our Savior elicited a response of joy and wonder from all creation: the angels, the earth, the heavens, and also by the Magi and Shepherds who could not fully comprehend the purpose of this glorious birth. We, the faithful, understand: the Savior is born in order to “dwell among us,” teach us, and eventually to even “trample down death by death” so that we and all creation can be rescued from the ancestral curse. So what shall we offer in thanksgiving for the great salvation bestowed upon us?
Christmas has come to be celebrated, rightly, by the exchange of gifts, recalling the greatest gift of the Son, sent by our Father “for the life of the world.” The Church, as the Body of Christ, is commissioned to continue the “giving” in the proclamation of this Good News, the Gospel, but not merely with words. Our gift is to work for the peace of our world continually beset with violence and warfare. Our gift is to defend the defenseless, such as the many Christians around the world persecuted for the Faith, especially in Egypt, Syria, Africa and elsewhere. Our gift is to feed those who hunger, give respite to the poor, and care for the aged and the young, to mend the brokenness of our community, society, and world in these troubled economic times. This occurs through countless acts of mercy, kindness and comfort; forgiveness and reconciliation; our time, talents and treasure. This is how we express our sincere gratitude; this is how we show our thankfulness. Then our hearts will in turn be filled with joy and wonder.
“Christ is born! Glorify Him!” In exalting Him this Christmas, may we all exult in the bonds of love! May the Joy, Grace, and abundant Life who is born of the Virgin be with you all this Christmas!
With Paternal Blessings on the Nativity,
Metropolitan IAKOVOS of Chicago