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The Twelfth Day of Christmas

January 6, 2011

One thousand six hundred and thirty years ago today, one of the Church’s greatest theologians delivered one of his greatest discourses. On par with St Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word of God, St. Gregory Nazianzus’ 38th Theological Oration, On the Theophany of Jesus Christ, beautifully sets out the theology of Christmas.

As you this day give thanks that God revealed His Son in the flesh for our salvation, please pray for those who have not yet seen the light of Christ, especially those who do not yet have access to a Bible they can understand.

Then, prayerfully, consider what you might do about it.

38th Oration of St. Gregory Nazianzus on the Theophany of Jesus Christ

January 6th, a.d. 381

Christ is born, glorify him!

Christ from heaven, go out to meet him!

Christ on earth, be exalted!

Sing to the Lord all the whole earth, and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for him who is of heaven and then of earth.

Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.

Christ of a Virgin; matrons live as virgins, that you may be mothers of Christ. Who does not worship Him who is from the beginning?

Who does not glorify Him who is the last?

Once again the darkness is past;

once again light is made;

once again Egypt is punished with darkness;

once again Israel is enlightened by a pillar.

The people that sat in the darkness of ignorance, let it see the great light of full knowledge.

Old things have passed away: behold all things have become new.

The letter gives way: the Spirit comes to the fore.

The shadows flee away:, the truth comes in upon them.

Melchizedech is perfected.

He that was without mother comes into existence without a father (without mother in His earlier state, without father in His later).

The laws of nature are overturned: the world above must be filled.

Christ commands it: let us not set ourselves against Him.

Clap your hands all you people, for to us a child is born, and to us a son is given, whose government is upon his shoulder (for with the Cross it is raised up), and his name is ‘the Angel of the Father’s Great Counsel’.

Let John cry, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’ I too will cry the power of this day!

He who is fleshless becomes flesh, the Son of God becomes the son of man, Jesus Christ the Same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride, let heretics talk till their tongues ache. They shall believe then, when they see Him ascending up into heaven, and if not then, when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge.

This is our present festival; it is this we celebrate today, the coming of God to humanity, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God, that putting off the old man, we might put on the new, and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him.

For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful. For where sin abounded Grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the Passion of Christ justify us?

Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our Master’s; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.

Read the rest here.

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