And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the Child

wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

(Luke 2:12).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I rejoice on this day to wish you a very lovely Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. As with all the great Feasts, we are living an important moment today. Lo, the Lord come among us clad in poverty. He chooses for His birth an obscure village in an unknown region, and He is born of a poor virgin.

 He, the Creator of the Universe, God of gods, the Almighty, is willing to manifest Himself to the eyes of men in a place where poor shepherds are sheltering with their flocks: a simple cave. It is there that Mary, having found no sort of welcome, gave birth to the King of kings, the Lord of lords.

Unto us is born this day… a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11) God is the Lord, who hath showed us light! (Ps 117:27), not, as Saint Basil says, under the form of God but in the form of a servant, in order to give freedom to those who were reduced to servitude. Who, then, has a heart so dulled, who is so ungrateful as not to rejoice, exult and shine with radiance in the face of such an event?

All this happens in a humility of which we, perhaps, are unaware: It is He, the Saviour; it is He, the Christ; it is He, the Lord – but what is there remarkable in being wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger? What is there significant in this?

Brothers and Sisters, through this sign, this mystery, it is given to us to understand that it is in humility that God comes among us that He may save us. And, moreover, we are called to be humble ourselves in order to meet the Lord. By His example, He makes us understand that human pride is shaken by God’s attitude: He offers us a share of His great humility in order to be saved.

So, we must live this Christmas Feast as a grace: the grace of a visit by God who humbles Himself in becoming a little Child. He who is the Word of God, the Logos, is willing to reveal Himself only in a few cries, like those of all children on earth… He who sits at the right hand of the Father is laid on a poor bed of straw… He who is the Creator of the world reveals Himself to us in a weak and vulnerable body, wishing thus to partake in our suffering humanity.

So, yes, we are invited to become very small, that we may live the true joy: that which comes from God!

Let us examine ourselves and change our way of life! Let us cast aside our vesture of flesh and clothe ourselves in the robe of light; let us stop always trying to dominate our brother by words, by force, by demonstrations of power. This is all in vain. Whether in our families, our parishes, our dioceses or our Churches, let us put a stop to all unseemly words, all disdainful attitudes, all demonstrations of power and domination, but let us become children of God, true people who reflect the beauty of the Lord in His humble presence. We shall thus become free in conforming to our model: Jesus, the Saviour, born in a manger! Our conduct will no longer be guided by group morality or social – or ecclesial – conformity! We shall no longer seek to crush our brethren by presenting ourselves as a Church strong in numbers, endlessly demonstrating that we are the best …

Let us therefore hasten to the Lord’s manger; but let us do our best to prepare ourselves for this by grace, opening up our hearts with a living faith, with a conscience freed from the fetters of pride.
   Thus, desiring to live in humility, acknowledging our weakness and falling at the feet of God the Child just as we are, in the depths of our truth, it will be given to us to taste of that which the agels announce to the shepherds on this Christimas night: Peace on earth; goodwill among men!
   It is this peace that I wish you, dear Brothers and Sisters, assuring you of all my love and prayers.
   May God’s humility be our joy!

+ Archbishop Gabriel of Comana
Paris December 2012