As we prepare to celebrate the Great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ this Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, I’d like to pause and reflect on the words of my late Seminary Professor, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, taken from his classic homily, “The Blessed Exchange.”
“Orthodox Christian Scriptures proclaim—and the Liturgy celebrates, the Sacraments realize, the Icons depict, the Canons protect, the Martyrs witness, the Fathers explain, and the Saints live—the Blessed Exchange that God accomplished in the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and glorification of His Son Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit’s power, for the salvation of humanity and the whole of creation:
God became human to make humans divine.
God became visible to allow humans to see Him.
God became touchable to allow humans to touch Him.
God spoke in human words to allow humans to hear Him.
God entered earthly time to make humans eternal.
God took flesh to make human bodies His dwelling.
God lived as a creature on earth to recreate the whole of creation.
He was a human being so that by His humanity we could become gods by grace.
He was small so that by His smallness we could become divinely great.
He was poor that so by His poverty we could become divinely rich.
He was weak so that by His weakness we could attain God’s power.
He was a fool in this world so that we could attain God’s wisdom.
He emptied Himself so that by His emptiness we could be filled with all the fullness of God.
He became the servant of all so that by his servitude we could all reign with Him.
He became nothing so that through His nothingness we could become everything.
He was homeless that by being a stranger He could take us home with himself to God.
He was naked that by His nakedness He could clothe us with himself.
He was wounded that by His wounds we could be healed.
He was without comeliness or form that we could be splendidly beautiful.
He was arrested that by being imprisoned we could be liberated.
He hungered that by his hunger He could be the Bread of Life for all who eat Him.
He thirsted that He could give us the Living Water that we would never thirst again.
His Body was broken that we who eat Him could be made whole.
His Blood was shed that we who drink Him could never die.
He became Sin that in Him we might become the Righteousness of God.
He became a Curse that in Him we might become the Blessedness of God .
He became a Corpse that in Him we might be forever Alive.
He suffered to free us from our sufferings.
He endured the Passion to free us from our passions.
He was tempted, tested and tried, just as we are, so that we could be victorious in Him.
He died the most vile death that a man, especially a Jew, could possibly die that we could live as God intended us to live, both now in this world and in the age to come.
To Him be glory, honor, worship, dominion, praise and thanksgiving, with God His Father and His all holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”