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Ven. St. Justin (Popovic)

Christ is Born!

Truly, God has been born as Man, on earth! Why? – “That we might live through Him” (I John 4: 9). For without the Incarnate God, the God-Man Lord Jesus Christ, human life is overall, a completely suicidal absurdity; death is truly the most obvious and awful absurdity on earth. To comprehend death is to comprehend life - all of the height and depth, the boundless eternity, of life.  This is something accomplished only by the All-man-loving Lord, Who in His immeasurable love becomes man, while ever remaining God Incarnate, God-Man in the world of man.  Human life acquires its eternal meaning, its purpose, as Divine-life, life in God.  Outside of God, life is absurd and utter nonsense, filled to overflowing with offense and bitterness. Only in God, o man, does your life find its sole rational, logical meaning. And your intelligence, my brother, your human thought, finds its Divine and eternal meaning only in God, only as Divine-intelligence.  It is only in the God-Man Lord Jesus Christ that Human thought becomes Divine intelligence.  Likewise, only in God do your senses, o man, find their Divine, eternal purpose.  Lacking that, your senses are but your most merciless torturer, constantly crucifying you on an eternal cross, with no resurrection to follow.  And your conscience?  Where do we people find this savage stranger? It is only through Divine-conscience that it unites itself with its divine, eternal, purpose.  Without it, human conscience is also a savage and terrible absurdity. And your death and mine, everyone’s death overall: in all of Creation, is it not the cruelest torture within human existence? Yes, that is truly so.  Yet even it achieves its eternal meaning and purpose only through the death and Resurrection of the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, for through Him, through Him alone, is the victory over death accomplished, and does death in the human world have meaning. Likewise, it is only as the good and grace-filled God-Man, in the worshipping and all-quickening Body of Christ the Incarnate God – the Church - that all mankind, all humanity in its infinite variety, discovers its Divine, eternal, Godly and human higher meaning.

With His Incarnation, becoming Man, God entered most patently entered into the womb, the bosom of human life, entered into the blood, the heart, and the center of all existence. Through His Incarnation, by becoming Man, God, Whom man had voluntarily crowded out of the human world, out of the human soul, comes back into the world, into the body, into the soul. He becomes fully Man, and being Him, labors for man, makes his abode in the world, in the midst of His Creation; He saves Creation, exercises His Providence over Creation, sanctifies and saves Creation, transfigures and deifies Creation.  God’s Incarnation is the greatest, most staggering, and most providential event to have occurred either on earth or in Heaven, for in [the Incarnation] the miracle of miracles is accomplished.  If, to date, the greatest miracle had been the creation of the world out of nothing, God’s Incarnation as Man surely surpasses it as a miracle. If in the creation of the world, God’s words were transformed into matter, in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself took on a body and became matter, became flesh.  Thus God’s Incarnation became providential for each individual, for each creature throughout all Creation.

As for you: live in Him, live in God-Man, and you will be healed of all deaths, sins, passions, and of every work of the devil. Let your life become Divine-life. In that, o man, as soon as you become a member of the Church, a member of the Divine-human Body of Christ, rests all of the Mystery of Heaven on earth: And how does one live in the Church of Christ? Live by the Holy Mysteries and the Holy Virtues. This is why the Feast of the Nativity is preceded by a Fast. Fasting is the first among the virtues, and is always accompanied by prayer. Those two fundamental virtues lead man to God-Man, and through Divine Wisdom teach him how to live by Him and in Him. And what is to be done with the body given you by God? – Purify it, free it from all uncleanliness, from all passion, from all evil, from every demon. What does that mean? It means to purify it of every sin, for the devil hides in any sin, in every sin the devil works without regard to your free will. In great sins, it is prince of demons, in little sins, a little demon. You and I and everyone else, have been given all of the resources with which to defeat all of those demons, all of the passions, all of the sins, all of the deaths in us and in the world around us. First and foremost among those resources are prayer and fasting. From the truthful lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, who always speaks the real Truth, [we hear] the life-giving truth: “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17: 21),- “this kind” of all manner of sins, all manner of passions, all manner of demons.

Lying before you and me, before all of us, brothers and sisters, is the Nativity: God is born as a person “so that we might receive life through Him” and so that through God we might perfect both soul and body. That is something easiest to achieve through prayer and fasting, which cleanse and purify both body and soul, so that the sweetest Divine Infant, our Lord Jesus, might joyously come to dwell in them, and that by God our human essence, in all its infinite variety might be fulfilled and perfected. For that was why your body and your soul, o man, were created, so that they might be fulfilled through God and [you] might live in God in God’s kingdom above. Our God-given teachers in this matter are humble prayer and fasting with humility. They are sacred and fundamental virtues [found in the] Gospels. May they soar with us, may they anticipate and proclaim to us and to all people throughout Creation the all-salvific and all-joyous Good News: Christ is born!

The Nativity of Christ, 1970

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