In a few days we are going to celebrate Christmas in unrepresentative times and circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems to me that it is also an opportunity to attempt to rediscover the true meaning of this great and historic Feast of our Faith, the mystery of the Incarnation of God, which is the only event that divides the history of the humanity into two parts, before and after Christ.
The hymns, the decoration of the churches, the festive lights in stores and homes, show that something big and unique is about to happen. Yes, it is something extremely big and unique because the One of the Holy Trinity out of exorbitant love, extreme love if you wish, remained what He was – God – and became what He wasn’t – human – but without sin, in order for us humans, men and women, to become “gods by grace” (ίνα ημείς θεοποιηθώμεν). God and man, together, with many things in common! Just take a few minutes and think about it.
In this time of the deadly threat of the pandemic, rediscovering the meaning of the Incarnation of Logos of God opens new – or renews – understandings that Christmas above and beyond the frenzy of the gifts is the incarnated presence of God among us. It is a great and inconceivable mystery. It is difficult for our limited mind to grasp the vastness of the fact that “the newborn is God.” The approach to this mystery can only be achieved through the power and the dynamics of faith.
But heads up: Let me remind one more time here that we are talking about faith not as a theoretical religious ideology, but faith as the establishment of a relationship with God. Faith as the total trust in Him. Beyond that there is nothing else. Let me also add that like every other relationship – friendship, marital, interpersonal – faith also needs cultivation as well in order not only to be sustained but also to grow.
Rediscovering this year of the pandemic the meaning of Christmas, we will be ecstatic before the magnitude of the loving vastness of God, through which He dared everything. It is a Godly love. A Great love. A salvific love. A crucified love. A perfect love. A total love. A love without terms and without boundaries. An endless love. In this way we understand that “God is life.” We don’t say that God has love, but He Himself is love.
In trying to rediscover the meaning of Christmas I am also trying to see and to understand what really has happened to the angels’ proclamation of “peace on earth” that filled heaven and earth on that mysterious night when God assumed human flesh and entered the history of humanity “in a different form”? Where is the peace? Let us dare to take a look around us – there are noises of war are everywhere. It is a shame because humanity today is confronted with wars in the name of Faith and God. Unbelievable, but true. Blood continues to flow every day.
Rediscovering the meaning of Christmas, I can never see it in our brutal killing of each other. Rediscovering the meaning of Christmas, it is also painful to see the phenomenon of empty churches. Christ is gone. In His place I see golden bedecked religious professional clergy who preach love but who really hate each other. There is hypocrisy beyond measure.
And the laity? What laity? They are only there “to pay, pray, and obey” blindly to the orders of the “ecclesiastical superiors” – even if they are mentally disturbed. Even if they are destroying local churches left and right.
I am rediscovering the true meaning of Christmas in the persons of the “least brothers” of Christ, the orphans, the refuges, the homeless, the hungry, the abused, the prisoners, the sick, the elderly, the lonely, the hopeless, the outcasts of society, the voiceless, the drug-addicted, the pressed and the depressed. All those who are in need of not just a verbal greeting of “Merry Christmas,” but of a deed that alleviates their pain in a practical manner and provides hope and meaning in their lives, and the ability to reclaim the purpose of their lives.