DECEMBER 16, 2018 - "GOD’S GREAT GIFT TO MANKIND"
The giving of gifts is an important part of our observance of the Nativity of Our Lord. One of the main hymns of the Church for this feastday deals with this matter of gift-giving. “What shall we bring to You. O Christ, when You are born on earth for our sakes? For each of the creatures . . . brings thanks to You: Angels their songs, the Heavens a star, the Wise Men gifts, the Shepherds wonder, the Earth s cave, the Wilderness a manger but we? We . . .a Virgin Mother.”
These same sentiments are expressed in the icon of the Nativity. The Angelic Choir proclaims glory to God and peace to men of good will, the Heavens open to let a star pierce the darkness of earth and point its fingers of light to the Newborn King. The Shepherds wonder at the miracle that has come to pass, the Earth offers a cave, a bleak wound in the land symbolizing the sin that engulfs mankind; the Wilderness offers its refuge where man can come and feed on the Bread of Life.
But we? Humanity offers the Mother, the One full of grace and faith, the Handmaiden of God who accepts His well and becomes the Temple for the Only-Begotten Son of God. To all this the icon adds the presence of Joseph, who will care for the Child; the animals, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah; and the three Wise Men who came to present gifts.
In the center is the Christ-Child, born in a type of tomb, wrapped in swaddling clothes that are not unlike the garment of burial. Yes, even in birth we are reminded of the destiny that awaits the Lord: to die that we might live!