December 9, 2021

Dear Melkites across America,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Within God's plan for his creation, humanity would live in an eternal paradise where peace would reign among mankind and even with the animal world. God would be glorified in all aspects of his creation and all of these aspects would be for the glorification of man and woman - the apex of God's creation.

Adam and Eve harmed this relationship with God by choosing the devil's temptation to eat of the one tree God had prohibited. Their act created sin and death. Yet the all-loving God created a new plan of renewal with the promise of a Savior born of a woman by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In time the promise was fulfilled through a young girl of Nazareth, Mary the virgin who said yes to God's plan and gave birth to Jesus Christ in the flesh. God now took human flesh to share his divinity with our humanity- he became one of us.

We celebrate this birth each year but not just a birth of the past, rather a new birth today in each and everyone of us. His birth as a human being was our renewal to live in paradise once again. Through our incorporation into the life of Christ: baptism, chrismation and Eucharist, we become other Christs committed to living his life. He is reborn in us and the celebration of his birth in Bethlehem must become a reminder every day of our life that he is our Savior, GOD WITH US - EMMANUEL.

The gospel writers Matthew and Luke present us with a beautiful account of the Lord's birth with a cast of characters and even nature. We witness the earth providing a humble cave and an animals' feeding box in which the child Jesus is laid. The heavens reveal a star to point out to the Magi or wise stargazers where he would be born. Heavenly angels announce to shepherds in the field the good news singing "glory to God and peace on earth." With their sheep they go to Bethlehem's cave followed later by the Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and there they find heaven on Earth - God in the flesh born of the Virgin Mary. She is protected by the noble Joseph who becomes the protector of Mary's child.

This holy event opens our hearts to accept a humble birth of the everlasting and almighty God in the flesh. It has motivated artists to create many images of the miraculous birth in icons, paintings, writings and other Media forms ; even our calendar is calculated from the time of his birth. He becomes the center of all humanity.

Adam and Eve transgressed God's command; the new Adam, Jesus Christ and the new Eve, the Mother of God, renewed and reconciled our broken humanity with the plan of God. Our broken human nature is divinized. Jesus becomes a man in human flesh to unite our humanity to his divinity: all humanity is called to be divine.

Dear sisters and brothers, clergy and laity, I offer you my love and prayers, asking God to open your hearts to renew yourselves in full commitment to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And through you may he open the hearts of many others to his gospel message. There is still much brokenness in our world, lack of peace among warring nations, major economic problems all around, imbalance in many aspects of our life, violence and senseless shootings, abortion or killing the unborn, and euthanasia, sometimes called mercy killing but in reality totally against God. We look to our faith and our commitment to living Christ and his teachings to combat the non-godly ways. It all begins with us.

Remain strong in your faith, learn and study it more and live it vibrantly. May the celebration of the Lord's birth open us to renew ourselves once again and not just on December 25, but every day of our life. We celebrate this birth also at the end of the year to embark on a new year with all godly aspects of love and peace.

My love and my prayers for each and everyone of you. May you enjoy this family feast all the days that follow. Allow the Lord to be reborn in you! A blessed feast of the Nativity of Christ, a happy and healthy 2022, and a joyful Feast of the Theophany celebrating God's manifestation through the event of his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Forerunner.

Sincerely yours in the new-born Savior,

+Nicholas


Joachim and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

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

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

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

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)