The fulness of time

(Gal. 4 : 4 – 7)

The nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

The reading of the epistle for the Nativity is the shortest of all apostolic readings. It consists of only three sentences in four verses. In these four biblical verses the most joyful news to mankind is to be found.

Let us read it once more: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:4-7).

Is there any joy on earth that can compare with the knowledge that God is taking us into His embrace again? Our Lord Jesus Christ came down from His ineffable heavenly glory, taking on the form of a servant. He came to dwell among us men, His creatures, to redeem us with His sacrifice on the Cross and to guide us back to our Heavenly Father.

God created Adam, our first descendant and our forefather, out of joy, so that He might share all the beauty of His creation with someone He had made in His image. He breathed life into Adam and Adam became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). God singled man out from among all created things and He placed Him higher than any other being. God did so by endowing man with a Divine quality He did not give to any other created being: free will. God’s plan was for man to achieve perfection by building on this divine seed.

However, Adam, tricked by the devil’s lies, succumbed to the first temptation and used his gift of free will to an evil end; he put his trust in the devil, God’s enemy and adversary, instead of trusting in God, His creator and best friend. Thus he poisoned with the seed of death both himself and all of nature.

While he was in a state of love and harmony with His Creator, all of creation was in a state of love and harmony with man. But when man fell away from God, all of nature turned against him.

The Lord did not create illness and death.

However, by allowing sin into his life, our forefather Adam made us mortal and prone to illness. In the words of St. Father Justin Popovic, “by sin, mankind destroyed its original communion with God the Word and Creator. By sin, mankind separated itself from Him, cut itself off from Him and set off on paths that led away from God the Word, paths that led through a thousand deaths to the kingdom of death, the kingdom of demonism, the kingdom of Satan, the devil.

Every sin is connected by its main life artery to the bound heart of the bound Satan. By allowing sin, that destructive, God-fighting power, to take power over him, man fell away from God, separated himself from Him and dragged with him the entire creation into the abyss of Satanism. All of creation was thus drawn into the bondage of corruption, into terrible sufferings and torments. It groans and labours together with mankind in the throes of death and sin (Rm. 8:20-22).

No one could have freed man from the bondage of sin and death, no one except for God the Word Himself, God the Creator, as the Only Sinless and Immortal One. In doing so, He reestablished the unity of the creation with the Creator, the communion of mankind with God the Word, the Logos and Logic and gave back to mankind its lost divine purpose and divine value of existence and of life.

The wonderful Christ Lord did this by His incarnation and by His entire economy of salvation, and most especially by His all-precious blood. He destroyed death and sin, uniting in Himself everything in heaven and on earth, and reestablished wonderful unity of all creation in God the Word.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). The Lord God came down to dwell with us, “that most wondrous of wonders on the planet and of all worlds,” becoming one of us. “He had a soul like ours, a body like ours, and he was in his troubles and afflictions just like us. He was like us even in death, and death is what makes us different to God.” The Lord came down to dwell with us, lowering Himself more than any earthly love would compel him to do. He was born in the human body as a man, to live with us and to save us. He drank from the cup of suffering of all His creatures. The Lord did not share this cup with any one and no one helped Him drink it. He drank it Himself, to the bottom” (St. Bishop Nikolai).

The Creator and Pantocrator of all things took upon Himself the form of a servant and was born in a cold cave, because no better place for Him could be found. No sooner He had opened His eyes to the world, when His creatures began to persecute Him and torment Him. All of His earthly life consisted of suffering. “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him” (Jn1:11).

The Lord bore all His troubles patiently in order to fulfill His ministry, to reconcile mankind with God and to bring all those who believe in Him to their Heavenly Father. He Himself said to His apostles, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28).

We heard the Apostle speaking about the “fullness of time.” St. Father Justin Popovic says that the “fullness of time came to be when sin had reached the peak of its destructive existence, threatening to completely subjugate mankind to the power of Satan, destroying the slightest trace of the divine and God-seeking seed in men.

In the Holy Scriptures we read about yet another kind of fullness: the fullness of the cup of God’s wrath (Rev. 16:19). Our life takes place between these two fulnesses: the fullness of time and the fullness of the cup of the wrath of God. We all know that the difference between these two fulnesses is immense and insurmountable. When the fullness of time had come, our Lord was born in humility, as a servant, to serve as an instrument in our salvation. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17). And when the cup of the wrath of God becomes full, the Lord will come in power and glory, as the Judge, to judge the living and the dead.

St. Paul witnesses to the men of the “fullness of time” in the words of the prophet: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God. They all turned aside. They have all become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10-12). When we look around and see how mindlessly people insult God with their sins, we should understand that the cup of God’s wrath is filling up very fast. And as much as time is running out, we still have innumerable opportunities to work on our salvation. Therefore let us take care how we live our lives, let us walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are, as we see, evil (Eph. 5:15-16).

Let us welcome into our hearts and embrace the new-born Lord, the Bozic (‘little God’), let us open the doors of our hearts and our homes to Him. Let us not insult Him by sinning, so that when He comes once again, this time in power and glory as the Judge, He will recognize us as His own.