by Metropolitan Philp (Saliba) of New York and North America


On the 25th of December, the Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea: one of the most significant events in the course of human history.

Once again the spell of Christmas has fallen over the universe. Again we are touched by old memories, the joy of home, the simple delight of children, the telling and retelling of the most thrilling story ever told.

In the second chapter of St. Luke, verse 7, we read the following words: "And she brought forth her first son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Christ was born in a lowly manger because there was no room for Him in the inn.

There was no room for Him in the whole town of Bethlehem, There was no room for Him in Herod's heart, and there was no room for Him in the hearts of the religious leaders of his time.

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1: 11.

In his Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul said: "When the fullness of time was come, God sent His son made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law." From the fall to the Incarnation there was a continuous dialogue between God and man. The purpose of this dialogue was to prepare man for a Divine and decisive intervention in the course of human history.

"And when the fullness of time was come."

"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14.

For more than a thousand years. God tried to prepare man for this Divine act, but alas, in spite of all God's revelation, nobody was prepared to receive Him the night He was born, except a few humble shepherds in the fields of Judea.

Two thousand years ago Christ was born in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn. Nineteen centuries have sunk in the ocean of eternity and still there is no room for Him in our hearts.

Is there any room for Him in our homes? Is there any room for Him in our educational system?

Is there any room for Him in our politics?

Is there any room for Him even in our Churches? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is a plain no.

In his book, The Prophet Isaiah described the personality of this Divine Child by the following words:

"The government shall be upon His shoulders: and His name shall be called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6.

The Prince of Peace was born to bring to a world, torn by hate, discrimination, and civil strife, peace, love, brotherhood and forgiveness. Christ was born to reconcile the human and the divine. Christ was born to destroy what divided nation against nation, race against race, and class against class. In Christ, according to St. Paul, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Some people say that Christianity failed to solve the human problem. This is sheer nonsense. Christianity did not fail. We have failed to live up to the Christian ideas and ideals, and to comprehend the mystery of the manger.

As we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas, let us pause for a while and think of the sad and shameful division in the Church of Christ. Let us fall on our knees this Christmas Eve asking ourselves this important question. Are we Christians worthy of this Divine love? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

As we prepare ourselves to celebrate this feast, let us think of those millions of people who are suffering under the yoke of tyranny and dictatorship. Let us think of the deprived and the needy and do something to dry their tears.

Someone has well said : The message of Easter is "Think of Heaven." The message of July Fourth is "Think of our Nation." The message of Thanksgiving is "Think of your blessings." The message of New Year's Day is "Think of the passing of time." But the message of Christmas is "Think of others." God was thinking of others when He sent Jesus to redeem the world.

Today we are living in the most dangerous time in history. Our generation, more than any other generation, must rededicate itself to the everlasting principle of peace and harmony among men. The relative period of peace which we are enjoying today is not the result of genuine love for peace. It is the result of fear, and a peace based on fear shall not prevail for ever.

It is up to us this Christmas to make a definite choice between war and peace, between good and evil, and between light and darkness. If we make the wrong choice, how can we escape the judgment of the Lord?

"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4.

May the eternal light of Christmas, which darkness can't overcome, shine in our hearts and in the hearts of men everywhere.

From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
January 1966
p. 4