Christ Is Born, Glorify Him!  Christmas Day Thoughts

On this, Christmas Day 2024, my focus is endeavoring to evince God’s love to all and in all I do.

The purpose of life: Theosis. How to progress on this life-long spiritual path? One must constantly, moment by moment, examine personal behavior – even unholy thoughts entertained and not immediately identified and rejected. This is the path to holiness – to love without ceasing, which in essence is to pray without ceasing as Paul advises us:

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-10, KJV).

Jesus Christ united Divinity with humanity, God incarnate. Because of His love, we can commune with God – the prerequisite being only our relinquishment of our will by replacing it with His.

Making this choice, one then seeks to evince God’s love in every activity he does. This is not as other (non-Orthodox) Christians sometimes express as trying to be like God (as in the popular phrase ‘What would Jesus do?’).

Rather, as an Orthodox Christian, we do not merely try to imitate holiness, we seek to become holy in union with God. It is because of Christ’s incarnation, that we can seek and attain this union. This goes far beyond the study of Jesus and subsequent imitation,which I regard as only a starting point.

We, the Church, the Body of Christ, each of us individually and collectively, are to bring holiness, love, to every situation presented to us. Not due to imitation, due to being – choosing to make God’s will our will transforms us.

To choose this path is a constant struggle – not a moment occurs in which our resolve to carry the cross in following Jesus is not challenged. And at each such test we either remain holy or stray. Our response to such trials, big or apparently small (for all are equally important), determines who we are. Again, this is not about imitation, it is about being. Knowing our weakness, and the errors we repeatedly make, is why saying the Jesus Prayer is central to our being. To, as Paul said, pray without ceasing is our way of life. An example thereof is when the Jesus Prayer becomes second-nature to an individual.

Ours is a choice to partake in His Divine Nature – to evince His Divine Nature – to be His Divine Nature. Every moment, we have the choice to do so or not. We are strengthened through prayer, the Sacraments, the Liturgy, the hymns, the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church, and our veneration of the Saints and devotion to Holy Theotokos. We make this journey not alone, for we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit if only we ask, and the intercessions of our Saints, again – if only we ask. And, at all times, we further our journey by repentance of the evil we do despite our worthy intentions. We recognize that the attacks of the evil one are relentless, repulsed only by our conscience’s choice to remain joined in his divine nature at all times.

It is as Serbian Orthodox Saint Justin Popovich wrote, “To be Orthodox means to have the God-man Christ constantly in your soul, to live in Him, think in Him, feel in Him, act in Him. In other words, to be Orthodox means to be a Christ-bearer and a Spirit-bearer.” (The God-Man: The Foundation of the Truth of Orthodoxy).

At this Christmas, and throughout the year, consider your highest priority in life.

Christ Is Born, Glorify Him!

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