The Nativity of Christ is At Hand

St. John of Kronstadt | 05 January 2013

Beloved, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ is now at hand. Let us take care to meet it in Christian manner, spiritually. I already know how you intend to meet it: you will soon be going to the market place, where you will concern yourselves and prattle about much, about the manifold pleasures of the table; or you will take care only to adorn your body with festive clothing. But as for the one thing needful (Luke 10:41), about how to sweeten your soul for the coming feast with spiritual food, or about how to adorn your soul with luminous thoughts – in short, how to meet and spend the feast worthily – this but rarely comes to anyone’s mind.

But, beloved, food is always with us and our clothing is always with us, but the Lord’s feast is not always with us; therefore, let us concern ourselves not with food and clothing, but rather with preparing ourselves to meet our Most-Pure Heavenly King. Let us concern ourselves with meeting the approaching feast worthily and spiritually. We have long since been singing “Christ is born,” which we sing in order to fathom beforehand the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, that is, why the Son of God descended to earth; why He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, becoming man without ceasing to be God.

To what end? “To this end God descended to earth, that He might raise us to Heaven,” says the Holy Church. [1] Remember this thought, and drive it into your hearts: that the Son of God descended to earth in order to save us from sin and eternal death and to raise us to heaven, that is, to where there is eternal life and eternal blessedness. If Christ descended to us in order to raise us to heaven, then we should ascend thereto beforehand in our thoughts and heartfelt desires, gradually turning our souls away from everything that binds us to the earth, to this country of exile in which there are so many temptations, afflictions, sicknesses, sorrows, with all its brevity, where we see only sin, allurements, and death with all its horrors.

Thus, before the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ arrives, let us adorn our souls with sobriety and purity of heart, that when Christ appears from heaven we might worthily meet His birth. Be attentive to yourselves: soon Christ will be on earth. Then raise your thoughts and hearts from earth to God and let us joyfully sing of the great mystery of the Nativity of the God-Man. If we meet this feast with such thoughts, and with such disposition of heart, then we will meet it worthily, in Christian manner, with benefit to our souls. Amen.

Translator’s note: 

[1] Akathist to the Sweetest Jesus, Kontakion 8.

Translated from the Russian

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