Christ is born! Glorify Him!
This is the Christian Orthodox salute in time of Christmas. Truly, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the best gifts that God gave to mankind.
Through this wonderful Nativity and the Crucifixion for our sins, Jesus our Lord opened large the door of paradise for everyone who wants to be saved.
Out of pure love and deep mercy for the human being, God decided to send His son to be born on earth. This unity God want to create between us and Jesus, the Messiah can be made even today by sincere attachment to His Son through faith in action; love and hope.
In fact, these are the gifts from us replacing the Magi’s gold, incense and frankincense. Receiving our Lord in the very own manger of our souls and body, through the Holy Communion we are celebrating the true Nativity. Then He lives with us and us with Him.
For some, it may seem late for Christmas greetings because the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus occurred this week.
So, it is related to the new calendar celebration, but according to the old calendar, it is before Christmas.
In the Christian Orthodox world, more than 300 million strong follows the old calendar. Only 50 million joined the new calendar, the rest are continuing to celebrate 13 days later, on Jan. 7, next year.
The Valley has a few Orthodox churches that continue to follow the old calendar.
The new ideas that the Nativity of Jesus was in summer not in winter, seems to get ground among the skeptics, non-believers and non-Christians.
According to the Orthodox faith, any religious subject is analyzed according to a few criteria. That includes original text of the Holy Bible, Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. Jewish history; Christian history and the world history including the old traditions.
The text of the Holy Scriptures tells us what happened before Christmas. Let’s see what St. Luke said after the angel Gabriel announced the good news of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ: “And behold, your relative Elizabeth (the mother of St. John the Baptist and the wife of priest Zacharias) has also conceived a son in her age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” Luke 1:36.
That means John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. But the question is: When was John born?
As we all know, his father was Zacharias, a high priest at the holy temple in Jerusalem. He was selected by lots to enter into the temple for atonement offering, which takes place once a year during September.
After his time at the temple, he returned home and his wife, Elizabeth, remained pregnant on Sept. 23. Six months later, March 25, is the Annunciation of the Nativity of our Lord, nine months from Sept. 23 is June 24, the day of John’s birth. Six months from June 24 is Dec. 25. Nine months from March 25 is Dec. 25, the time of Nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ.
For the Christians of our Valley, on the new and old calendar, may the blessing of the nativity be upon you and your loved ones for many years to come.
The Rev. Remus Bleahu is a member of the Eastern Orthodox Clergy Association of Mahoning Valley. He is a missionary priest of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Erie, Pa., and hospital chaplain for Orthodox patients in the Valley.