In the Orthodox Christian Tradition, the age-old Christmas greeting is this: "Christ is Born! Glorify Him!" It is a greeting that, in the praise, joy, and wonder that it conveys, matches the Easter greeting: "Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!"

As an affirmation of our faith, the Easter greeting comes readily to our lips when we celebrate the one event in history that brought eternal life to the world. But how many of us hail one another with the Christmas greeting, which proclaims our belief in the one historical event in which humanity was fully embraced by divinity?

These two events --Pascha and the Nativity-- form the whole of our Faith. For, as we must always keep in mind, it was the birth of the Son of God as man that paved the way for the Son of Man --and mankind with him-- to rise in glory.

In the Scriptural stories of Jesus' birth, a star shines over the City of David, wise men give gifts to the newborn child, and angels bring tidings of the birth to the shepherds. The meaning of these stories goes well beyond the events they portray. Indeed, they tell of the profound truth that this child born of Mary was the anointed One of God, the Messiah who would bring everlasting life and everlasting peace.

"Christ is Born!" A baby is born in Bethlehem, and with him is born the promise of salvation.

"Christ is Born!" An infant is carried in his blessed mother's arms, and in his arms he carries the whole world.

"Christ is Born!" A child cries in the night, and in his cry the groanings of mankind are turned to laughter.

"Glorify Him!" The child who was born is the same Messiah who has himself borne our sIns.

"Glorify Him!" The infant who lived among us is the same Savior who has given his life for us.

"Glorify Him!" The baby who laid in a manger is the same Lord who has risen from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

The essence of the message of Christmas is that God Himself has become a human being so that all men and women may find their fulfillment in God. Therefore, let us give thanks and praise to God. And let us greet one another in the way our Church has taught us: "Christ is Born! Glorify Him!"

On behalf of the entire staff of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, I wish you a most blessed Christmas, and I pray that the joy of the season continue throughout the coming new year.

[ December 25, 1997 ]