The weakness, the sensitivity and one might even say, the tragedy, of human nature, have been truly apparent throughout this challenging period. It is in times like these, we profoundly bear witness to our mortality, our susceptibility to illness, our vulnerability regarding fear and insecurity and our limits, as well as our true selves are revealed. Terms like ‘survival of the fittest’ come to mind as we are inclined to fight for our own survival, seeking to protect ourselves and our families against contraction of the virus. We see the virus affecting, and sadly killing, those more susceptible, at a higher risk, with underlying health problems, especially our elderly. Is this the harsh reality of human existence?
Throughout our lives and particularly in such situations we are called to ‘look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always’ ( 1 Chronicles 16:11) for ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’ (2 Corinthians 12:9) St Moses the Ethiopian similarly writes, ‘throw your weaknesses before God and the Lord will become your strength.’
The Scriptures, the teachings of the Saints and our Christian tradition in general, somewhat contradictory to the egocentric, harsh, rather primitive fallenness of humanity, paint a very different picture of what it means to be human, what our purpose is, what it means to live and where our priorities lie as images of God and the pinnacle of His creation.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…’ (Beatitudes, Matthew 5)
The glorious incarnation of God, the nativity of Christ, the ‘new Adam’ and His Theophany are not only paradoxical due to the miraculous Virgin Birth but also due to the fact that He, the very source of life, the Emmanuel and ‘King of Glory’ and Saviour of humanity, comes into this world with such humility, poverty, with self-sacrificial love and embracement of all peoples; even those who crucified Him. Yet in His humility or lack of ‘power,’ He conquered and continues to conquer the hearts of human beings and primarily, through His unity with all elements of human nature (apart from sin) and His life-giving resurrection He tramples down on death and evil. For us as Christians, it is in our fallenness, in our weaknesses, in our tragedy that we find the need for, and truth of, the eternal, merciful and embracing Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Many, of His time, were expecting a grand king, a rich man, someone who would offer worldly power. On the contrary Christ was, and is born in our hearts, as love, to heal and comfort sinners, to forgive our transgressions, to give strength to those who look out, and care, for others before themselves, the medical professionals and carers who put the physical and spiritual health of their neighbour before their own, the philanthropists and all who share and live-out the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. These twelve festive days (from Christmas leading to Theophany) are our beacon of strength in weakness, the bright star in the midst of what might seem as darkness and our reassurance that ‘God is with us,’ that He is indeed with us to ‘set His whole universe right.’ (St Romanos the Melodist)
As our spiritual Father, Archbishop Nikitas, writes in His Christmas Encyclical, ‘He comes as an innocent child to bring a new and different understanding of life to the world. He comes to bring justice, harmony, love and peace to the hearts of all, to each and every person.’ Through the Nativity of the Lord, the Christ Child, we are able to bear witness to the fundamentally good nature (Genesis 1) the holiness and divine purpose and value of the human being in the face of every child and every person. As we enter into the New Year 2021, celebrating the feast of St Basil the Great, let us not forget that ‘time’ is, for us, a gift from God, an opportunity for repentance, a constant invitation towards transfiguration and salvation, towards eternal life.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021 to all!