Christ Is Born! Glorify Him!
No sooner was our Lord Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem, joining us under the most contradictory of circumstances, that His persecution began. Upon receiving the news of the Messiah’s Nativity from the three Wise Kings, the most wicked King Herod, in a fit of rage, sent his soldiers to slaughter all the boy babies who had been born then in those parts, from the infants to the two-year-olds. Herod’s crime is described in historical accounts. But the Evangelist St. Matthew reports that the Lord sent an angel to warn St. Joseph, in a dream, of the threat to the Holy Family, so that they might flee the vicious persecution.
So it was that the Nativity of the Son of God, amazing the shepherds and gloriously heralded by the heavenly hosts, had on the one hand inspired the Wise Kings to undertake a complex pilgrimage, that they might find God Incarnate, worship him and offer Him their gifts – while in the soul of the wicked, ignorant and idolatrous king (for Herod was not a righteous king at all, but prayed to idols), it only inspired a ferocious hatred and a stubborn obsession with asserting his ruthless personal agenda.
As we know, the hatred of Herod and others of his ilk succeeded in bringing about the crucifixion of our Saviour at Calvary. As in the earliest days of Christ’s earthly life, this hatred and cruelty proved futile: Christ rose from the dead. It is impossible for the evil powers of this world to vanquish Divine Providence, to subordinate Divine Reason to their own wicked ambitions.
Nonetheless, our Lord Jesus Christ’s entire earthly life unfolded against the backdrop of these two forces locked in struggle with each other: on one side, those who accepted Him, who searched for Him, like the Wise Kings, and came to worship Him, joyfully offering such gifts as they could, as an expression of their love and devotion to the Divine Child – and on the other side, those who searched for ways to slay Him, for the means to overcome and to destroy God Himself.
It is no secret that this struggle between good and evil continues on earth to this day. We should be neither troubled by it, nor despondent over it. No matter what ingenious tools theomachists devise to wage war against Divine Grace and Divine Love, Christ Himself or even our own weak Christian selves, theomachy – war against God – is always doomed to exposure and disgrace. God and Divine Truth are always triumphant over the tricks and the outright crimes of theomachists. It is precisely because of these trials and tribulations that we, the faithful, are given the chance to prove ourselves, and also to prove to ourselves, that we are on the side of the Wise Kings, to whom God even granted permission to understand the secrets of the stars & the cosmos, and not on the side of the ignorant Herod, a cruel idolater, a selfish egotist consumed with lust for power.
All of us who have come here this day to worship Christ the Divine Newborn Child proclaim our own choice before all the world. We are joined in this act of faith by some two billion people who, regardless of the degree of their own spiritual development, view Christmas Day (the Feast of the Nativity) whether it be on the Julian or Gregorian calendar, as a great, radiant and holy feast day. Regardless of the vices that afflict mankind, its best aspects do indeed honour, revere and worship our Lord, love the Divine Child and strive to bring Him joy, to serve and emulate Him at least in something. This is why, against all odds, life on earth continues and thus, there remains hope for our salvation.
Let us therefore, as we begin a new civil year, intensify our efforts, so that the light of Christ and the Faith of true Christians might inspire more people to come worship the Christ Child, in the year to come. Amen.
Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America