Daily Meditations

Thirty-Ninth Day of Christmas Advent. For so has God Loved the World (Part I)

By Father Georges Florovsky

That we begin our reckoning of time with Christ’s birth is a fact which has long been but a mere convention for many. Seldom does one recall and recognize the great event from which we count time. So do we betray our ignorance and insensitivity. In ancient days, time was computed from the Incarnation of God the Word. It signifies that we live in a world which has been renewed and redeemed already, that even now we live in the realm of grace and already reckon the years of the new creature. Time itself has been illumined by the light which the darkness cannot consume. In a new and higher sense God is with us from that mysterious day forward, from that mysterious night in Bethlehem. “God was manifest in the flesh.” (I Tim. 3:16) Since then we worship God who came down from heaven.

In the fullness of time God sent into the world his Son born of a woman. The Son of God became the Son of the Virgin. Here is the assurance and the beginning of salvation, the guarantee and source of eternal life. This is the reason for both, those on earth and those in heaven, to rejoice—the mystery of Godmanhood, the glory of the divine Incarnation. The kingdom of God then began and was truly revealed in history itself; in the meekness and humility of a simple life. The star of the eternal covenant stopped and shone over the cavern in Bethlehem. The humiliation of the cavern testifies that the kingdom then revealed is not of this world. Although it happened then, in the days of King Herod, in the city of Bethlehem, this “then” is, in the true sense of the word, an everlasting “now.” It was truly a beginning, the beginning of something new—of the Gospel history: It was then the New Covenant was revealed. The prophecies came true.

The divine descent is not only divine condescension, but at the same time it is the revelation of glory. Then was human nature healed through the ineffable divine assumption, and was reintroduced into communion with everlasting life. The action of grace reentered the world where it had been stopped by human sin. “Christ is born and earth and heaven are united: today

God came down to earth, and man ascended into heaven.” From now on human nature is inseparably united with the Godhead in the indivisible unity of the hypostasis [=Person] of the Incarnate Word. Everything became new. Thus was accomplished the pre-eternal mystery and council of love divine. “He, who established the being of every creature, visible and invisible, by a sole act of will, before all ages and before the existence of the creaturely world, determined ineffably that He himself should truly become united with human nature in the true unity of his hypostasis [=Person], thus making man God through union with him.” So spoke St. Maximus the Confessor about the pre-eternal council of God. God creates the world and reveals himself in order to become a man in this world. Man is created in order that God may become man and it is by this union that man is deified. Or as St. Irenaeus of Lyons expressed it: “The Son of God became the Son of man in order that man would become the Son of God.” This purpose was realized in the mystery of Christ’s birth, when the foundation of the Church was already prefigured.

~Adapted from the VERY REV GEORGES FLOROVSKY, D.D., THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, Editorial from the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Winter 1952, Vol. 1, No


See the source image