January 2015 Letter
Congratulating you on this New Year 2015 and the Nativity Feast, hoping that this year would be a blessing to our spiritual and practical lives, and also a blessing to our families and our beloved ones.
On the occasion of the Nativity Feast, we would like to share a contemplation by HG Bishop Seraphim of Ismailia, Egypt, titled: “the Child of the manger blesses all who surround Him”:
The feast of Nativity is the feast of the Incarnation of God; He united with our human nature to save and redeem us. In His mysterious birth we find a variety of people surround the Holy Baby:
1) Men (Joseph the carpenter, the shepherds and wise men), and women (Virgin Mary and Salome her relative).
2) Old people (Joseph the carpenter), and young (St. Mary).
3) The rich (wise men), and the poor (the shepherds).
4) Jews (Joseph, St. Mary and the shepherds), and gentiles; i.e. non-Jews (wise men).
5) Knowledgeable people (the wise men were experts in astronomy), and simple people (shepherds).
6) Those who were close to the manger (shepherds), and those who travelled for a very long distance (wise men).
7) In the manger angels were praising God, and humans were worshiping & praising Him.
8) In the manger men and animals gathered together.
9) The heavens witnessed to Him (the angels and the star that appeared to the wise men), and also the earth witnessed (the wise men came and worshiped).
10) Virgins (St. Mary), and married (the shepherds and the wise men).
11) The gifts of the wise men referred to several aspects of the life of the Child: gold refers to Him being king, frankincense being priest, and myrrhbeing Redeemer and Savior.
12) The annunciation to Virgin Mary took place in the city of Nazareth (Galilee) thus blessing it; and His birth was in the village of Bethlehem in Judea (near Jerusalem) and thus blessing both the village and the city.
13) The Child was born in a manger thus blessing it, then He was offered to the temple (after 40 days) thus blessing the temple, then He went and lived in a house to bless it, then fled to Egypt thus blessing it and all its people “Blessed is Egypt My people” (Isaiah 19: 25).
14) Christ in His birth, blessed and brought joy to everyone, gathered all around Him, and they all witnessed to Him. He came for everyone to save all.
May the blessing of the Child of manger be with us all this year, and asking you to remember the church, priests, the servants and their services always in your prayers, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, January 1, 2015