The Orthodox Faith
For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane
By Fr. John Abdel-Karim
16 - THE INCARNATION OF THE LOGOS
When the time was ripe, God sent His Son to become man "through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary." When was the time ripe? When man had suffered enough through his disobedience and the Fall; when man himself sought salvation; when the ancient wise men had prepared humanity for the Heavenly Redeemer; when the Old Testament had educated man to accept Christ; when there was one empire in all the known world, established by Alexander the Great and his descendants and continued by the Roman Empire; when there was a common language, the Greek language, spoken even in Rome--then the Logos was incarnated. Then the second Person of the Holy Trinity left Heaven and came down to earth as God and God-man. Archangel Gabriel brought the message to the Virgin Mary. He told her that through the Holy Spirit she would give birth to a son. Then Christ was conceived, 1991 years ago. With His birth as man, history was divided into two divisions--before and after Christ. The counting of time started all over again.
"The Word became flesh" (John, 1:14). From the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the second person of the HolyTrinity was incarnated. While He remained perfect God, He became perfect man. And one might ask, How could a true God be born of a human mother? It is an unexplainable phenomenon. It is only understood as a miracle. "Whenever God wishes, the order of nature is overturned." The order of nature is twice overturned here: we have a virgin birth and the infinite God filling a woman's womb, and being born as a whole and perfect man. There is no logical explanation for these happenings. Christ is a God-man. He is perfect God and perfect man. And at the same time He is one person; that is, one essence with two natures, the Godly and the human. "Dual in nature but one in essence." These two natures are unconfusedly united, so that they form one person but at the same time are not confused.
This God-man, "dual in nature but one in substance," the "fulfilment of embodied divinity," was born in time and place as a human being, in Bethlehem of Judea, under the most unexpected conditions. The Roman Emperor had decreed that everyone was to return to his place of birth for the census. The elderly Joseph set out with his bride. They arrived at Bethlehem, their village. They knocked at doors, but none were open to them. "There was no room at the inn." They took refuge in a cave, a manger for animals, to escape the night cold. There, on that "night filled with miracles, night filled with charms," the God-man was born, the Redeemer, the Saviour of the world. The Heavens shone brightly. Angels descended and ascended singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will among men" (Luke, 2:14).
The angels proclaimed it to the shepherds, who ran to worship Him. A star guided the Magi from the East. They discussed it with Herod. He, who hated God, guilefully pretended that he wanted to worship the new-born King. Actually, he wished to kill Him. The Magi found the God-man. They worshipped Him. An angel revealed Herod's plans to them. Secretly, they departed. They returned to their own lands. Herod realized that they had left without saying anything to him. He was enraged. He slaughtered fourteen thousand children, two years and under, hoping to kill the God-man. But he was outwitted. Another angel warned Joseph of Herod's plans and suggested that he take Mary and the child and depart for Egypt, which they did. They returned when Herod died. And this is how Christ was born.
However, why was He born in such a simple way? Why in such humility? Why not in a way that would have made Him accepted as King? Why was it necessary for Him to be hidden from Herod? Had he ceased being God? No. However, He was born as perfect man, and behaved as a man. He had the natural needs of man. The divine nature did not overwhelm the human nature, nor the human, the divine. How could it have been otherwise? The infinite God could not be overwhelmed by His creation, finite man. He condescended to humble Himself, to become man, to put on human flesh, as man in baptism puts on Christ. As Christ descended, man ascended. As God was incarnated, man was able to become God-like.
Whatever we write, it is impossible to explain the mystery of the Incarnation. "The mystery does not lend itself to research." The Incarnation of the Logos is and shall remain a mystery. It was brought about mysteriously through God's love for man and His desire to save him.
LET US PRAY
Son and Word of God, Who through Your love for man became man to save him, You accepted extreme humility. You came without glory and honour. You came to Your creation and Your creation did not know You and accept You. It did not receive You. They closed the door to You. They compelled You to be born in a manger. They compelled You to flee to Egypt, to survive the rage of Your servant Herod. And You accepted it all without protest, even though You were God and man, almighty. We express admiration for Your humility. We have Your meekness and tolerance as examples. Together with the angels, shepherds, and Magi, we glorify and worship Your birth. We accept Your divine and human nature. Hear our prayer. Overlook our ingratitude, our inhospitality, and the animalistic behaviour of a few. You "wish all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." You, O Christ, "on Your shoulders carried our deceived nature and ascending to Heaven brought it before God the Father." You, O Lord, take every deceived nature, every man, and raise him to Heaven.
Bring him to the One Who is God and Father.