Saturday, December 26, 2015

Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos on the Nativity

(Orthognosia) - This interview with his Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou was published in the journal "Καθ' οδόν" by the Community Youth of the Sacred Metropolis of Limassol, and as the reader will see, the questions cover a large part of the Christology of Christmas.

Question: The word Χριστούγεννα (Greek word for "Christmas") means the birth of Christ. We would like you to tell us what was the purpose of the birth of Christ and generally why did the Word of God have to incarnate. Couldn't there have been another way for the salvation of the human race?

Answer: As it is written throughout our biblical-patristic tradition, the purpose of the Incarnation of the Word of God is the theosis of humanity, which means that He who according to His nature is God became man, that we may become gods according to Grace. In one of his discourses, Athanasius the Great analyzes that God sent the Prophets in the Old Testament to speak to His people, but ultimately the issue was how man will be deified and how he will be released from death. The law could not save, but it prepared the people to accept Christ, which is why it was our "pedagogue in Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Christ by His incarnation united to His Person the divine and human nature, that it may be the "medicine" for our theosis, and He received an extremely pure yet mortal and sufferable body that He may suffer and conquer death. For example, when a drug is discovered the possibility is given to each person to use it for their healing. This is what took place with the incarnation of Christ, who offered the "medicine of immortality", according to Saint Ignatius the God-bearer.

Question: What does history reveal about the events of the birth of Christ (the time, the place, the circumstances, the persecution, etc.)?

Answer: Two points are shown in the event of the birth of Christ. The first is the love of God towards man, His great philanthropy, that He is, as Saint Maximus the Confessor says, both eros and the object of eros, and as eros He moves towards man and as the object of eros He attracts to Himself those receptive to His eros. The second is the tragedy of fallen man, who did not understand the benevolence of God and created many problems for Him. This is also a contemporary reality. And today there is a struggle between the philanthropy of God and the apostasy of fallen tragic man. It is a terrible thing for man to refuse and resist the love of Christ, which is offered in many ways.

Question: Why was Christ born of the Virgin Mary and why did He come from the Jewish race and not by another woman?

Answer: Christ was "the expectation of the nations" (Gen. 49:10), since all nations were expecting a redeemer, a savior. We see this also in ancient Greece, such as the trilogy of Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer) and Socrates, as well as among the eastern peoples. But the Prophets prepared the Jewish nation better for the coming of the Messiah. The Virgin Mary became His mother, because, according to Saint Gregory Palamas, before the Annunciation she reached theosis according to Grace within the Holy of Holies. However, the incarnate Christ called all nations to His Church, He became the Savior of all humanity, and His work was universal...
Complete article here.

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