35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
This eve is not only the celebration of Jesus’ birth but of St. Mary becoming not only the Mother of God but our Mother the Icon of perfect sainthood and the summit and goal of our Christian life. We are all in baptism and the seal of the Holy Spirit, called and enabled, yes anointed to become like Mary who is and remains blessed among all women and the birth giver of our Savior.
Have you ever thought about what the Christian calling is? What is our standard?
We often hear ourselves making excuses about our lives, the choices we make, the relationships that are broken the good we neglected, often by saying “I’m only human”.
Beloved, it is Christ’s will that we should all be worthy of the eternal life that he won for us. He wants us to be with him and not to miss out. It will take commitment, it will require strength to follow Jesus, to be like Mary, to trust him and to worry less about what the world says and what others do, but to put our attention on Jesus the “great God and Savior”! Jesus, born of Mary has appeared to offer salvation to all people. How do we follow him and what are we to be? Can we keep making excuses and say, “we’re only human?”
Well, Mary is only human!
Yet, behold, there she is, crowning each of the Holy Altars and Godly Sanctuaries of Armenian Churches worldwide and at all times, adorned with beauty, gifts and prayers of intercession and praise! She is in some ways very different from many of us in our posture of humility, faith, service and devotion to God, but yet at the same time she is nonetheless exactly like us. She is sanctified, having become what each of us in baptism. By the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, she is consecrated, transformed, sanctified and conformed to Christ in every way possible and in the very same way that each of us are invited to be and who have the potentiality to become. God has offered this to us in our own baptism, sealed the power of his life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It has been promised and potentialized, Like Mary, in our baptism. Each of us is therefore, likewise sealed and born again with the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit, by which God has sealed his Holy Spirit on you, so that the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
It remains that we like Mary, our blessed and holy Mother, participate in a profoundly synchronous and cooperative life in Christ and in the Church, being informed by our faith, fed by the sacraments and to remain in the unity of the Body of Christ. Remember that life is not easy. We are easily distracted especially today. God doesn’t force us.
Apart from a full commitment to Christ, and within the safety of the sacred cradle of our life which is the church, our sanctified life guarded and nurtured in the life-giving faith would be compromised.
No, Life is not easy. There are all kinds of temptations, deceptions, ideas that tickle our fancy and entice and engage our thoughts, our feelings and our senses. We see how broken our world is. There is war, there is hatred, there is a worsening disregard to the natural gifts of God’s creation which we waste, ruin and destroy through acts of irresponsibility and carelessness, where it is the oceans, the air, the crops of the field or life itself, there is an increasing devaluation of life and humanity itself to name but a few examples. Families are being broken up and people are falling into hopelessness. It seems obvious that in every case there is at the core a refusal of acknowledging Jesus as central to our life’s core, either denying him outright, or seeing him as peripheral, unimportant or unworthy of our attention.
Renouncing ungodliness, we should be aware of the dangers and worldly temptations, various vices and means that the evil-one uses to distract and steer us away from holiness. Seeking the good of others and the pursuit of real joy, for fellowship with our fellow man and a life of service to our God, our families our fellow citizens, not looking on the pother as stranger, not ignoring those who are in the margins of society but like the Lord ready to love and to seek solidarity with all.
Therefore, dear faithful, like St. Paul encourages and instructs Titus, we too are enabled if we don’t turn from Christ, and if we nourish the baptismal grace given to us. We ought to immerse ourselves in the gifts of grace, of repentance and the frequent attendance at Badarak and frequent reception of Holy Communion. Through that grace given to us, we will like the saints, be bold in our faith and willing to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, while we wait with blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us and to purify us to do what is good. (Titus 2:13-14)
This evening we came before God and we rejoice at our dear savior’s birth, gathered sacramentally in the Holy Cave of his nativity to receive his precious and life-giving presence from the womb of the church and to Commune with him and with each other in love and steadfastness as the Body of Christ. Tonight, like the example of the lives of the St. Mary and all the saints we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation to sin, which separate us from God’s love, we are, each and every one of us, invited into a new relationship with God, one that parallels and reflects the golden disposition of our greatest icon of obedience, love, humility, St. Mary, who out of her trust in God her savior, succumbed to the mystery beyond reason and was made worthy to become the Mother of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the mother of us all. Therefore beloved and sanctified of God, as we prepare to receive the Holy Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood and to recommit our to our lives in Christ, let us join the choir of angels and sing, Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, Peace and goodwill among all on whom God’s favor rests.
Christ is born and revealed, blessed is the revelation of Christ.