Christ is come! Glorify Him!

The good news is not just an historical event; by uniting his divinity with our humanity, God opened a two-way door that remains open here and now.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bishop John Kudrick

“The beginning of the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). It has been noted that this first sentence of St. Mark’s Gospel is not a title for the first chapter but for the entirety of the book.

Jesus’ life and death on earth, together with his resurrection, is a beginning of Good News, good news of perpetual beginning (life), rather than a progressive end (death).

The Good News is actually that the world remains in a state of beginning. Even the last book of the Bible ends with Jesus declaring “I am [both] the beginning and the end” (Rv 22:13). “The end” and “the beginning” are one and the same.

The good news is not just an event of history, that a baby was born 2000 years ago. Neither is it just that God considered us worthy of visiting us. Rather the good news is that, by uniting his divinity with our humanity, God opened a two-way door, one that remains open here and now. God continues to enter our life and invites us to begin, to become “partakers of the Divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4).

This good news continues, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as the members of the church unite ourselves with the holy sacrifice and proclaim with our lives salvation in Jesus Christ. This good news is always new and always good.

By the human conception and birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God, God allows us to regain that humanity that Adam and Eve knew in the Garden of Eden. He allows us to be fully human, fully alive. In this way God shows that he is God and calls us to humanity in its fullness.

Our participation is important. Christians know what is meant to be fully alive even if we don’t always live accordingly. We see lives from the perspective of “beginning” and rely on the mercy of God as we grow to full maturity in Christ.

We find the theme of beginning a number of times in Holy Scripture.

Jesus reminds us that “In the beginning of time, humanity was created male and female” (Mt 19:4), complementing each other. This serves as an icon for all right relationships.

St. John describes Jesus’ changing of water into wine as “the beginning of his miracles” (Jn 2:11). These miracles continue to this very day for those who would see them.

St. Paul connects our holiness and fidelity to the truth with “the beginning” (cf. 2 Th 2:13). He also teaches that we must share with the world our knowledge of Jesus Christ, as he refers to him as “the beginning” (cf. Col 1:18-28).

Righteous living, cooperation with God’s (miraculous) actions, remaining holy within the true faith, sharing that faith, are all part of being fully alive – signs of beginning. In this way, we may realize that, in the words of the Broadway musical “Purly,”: “The world ain’t comin’ to an end, my friend. The world’s just comin’ to a start.”

This knowledge is the source of our hope as we note losses and disappointments. This knowledge is the source of hope for our church. This knowledge is the source of hope for the world. We are for beginning, not ending.

This is why we may image Jesus Christ as an infant. This is why we use the word “is” rather than “was” when we proclaim: Christ is born! Glorify him!

Bishop John Kudrick is the Bishop Parma, Ohio. www.parma.org


Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (Proverbs 3:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not pray that things may be according to your desires, for your desires are not always in keeping with the will of God. It is better to pray as you were taught, saying: "Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10). Pray in this way about all things, for He always desires what is good and profitable for your soul, whereas you do not always seek it.

Saint Nilus of Mount Sinai: "153 Texts on Prayer"