My beloved children in the lands of immigration, priests and congregations.
I congratulate you for the Glorious Feast of Nativity and the beginning of a New Year, wishing you all from the Lord a joyous and holy life in His love.
“Blessed is Egypt My people.” (Isaiah 19:25)
It gives me joy, in the birth of the Lord Christ, to Whom is Glory, that I remind you that in His Incarnation, He sanctified all things by good use. Thus it was said “To the pure all things are pure.” (Titus 1:15)
The body, which some thought was corrupt and the cause of every sin, the Lord sanctified it with His incarnation. And He showed us how the flesh can be pure, holy and pleasing to God. He sanctified the body when the Holy Spirit dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and sanctified her body to be a pure vessel for the dwelling of God the Logos. He generally sanctified the body by granting humanity the resurrection of their bodies, and transforming them in the resurrection to spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:44).
Thus He sanctified our bodies, our spirits and our human nature in a general way. He took what was ours and granted us what was His.
In His incarnation, He sanctified all stages of life of the person. He gave us an example for a holy childhood when He became a Child. He also showed us how the stage of the youthful period can be holy, and how adulthood can be holy. That is, He gave us the correct image for each stage of the stages of life when He passed through it…
And the Lord Christ sanctified marriage, as He also sanctified the life of celibacy and retreat and prayer. He sanctified marriage when He allowed the Virgin Mary to be married to Joseph the Carpenter, even though she did not live with him as a wife, but lived in virginity under his care. He also sanctified marriage when He attended and blessed the wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2). Likewise, He sanctified marriage, when he chose Peter who was married, to be one of His Apostles and Disciples.
And the Lord Christ sanctified retreat and prayer when He prayed, retreating alone, on the Mount of Olives and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He sanctified virginity by His celibate life, His birth from a Virgin, and that He granted His Mother to His celibate disciple John to live in his home till she departed.
He sanctified human life by His life. He sanctified fasting when He fasted forty days (Matthew 4:2). He sanctified food and drink when He ate like us and drank, till it was said about Him: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” (Matthew 11:19)
He sanctified sleeping and watchfulness, when He slept in the boat and when He was awake for the whole night in prayer. He sanctified work when He worked as a carpenter in Joseph’s house, and it was said about Him: “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary.” (Mark 6:3) And thus He blessed work when He worked with His hands, and sanctified every work that His hands extended to.
He sanctified the whole life, and was the representative of humanity in this sanctification.
He sanctified earth that was cursed with the sin of Adam (Genesis 3:17), and the blessing returned and entered it by His birth. He blessed Palestine by being born there. And He blessed Egypt by living there for three and a half years; and the Divine Inspiration said: “Blessed is Egypt My people.” (Isaiah 19:25) He even blessed the manger in which He was born, and it became a holy shrine. He blessed every place He came to and every site in which He performed a miracle. He blessed the sea when He walked upon the water. He blessed the mountain from which He delivered His sermon, just as He blessed the Mountain of Transfiguration when He was transfigured upon it.
He sanctified bread when He blessed the bread in the miracle of five loaves. The Lord Christ sanctified everything – He sanctified poverty, richness and money.
He sanctified poverty when He was born poor in a pitiable manger, and lived in poverty not having any place to rest His head. Similarly He sanctified poverty when He chose His disciples from amongst the poor and fishermen… At the same time, He sanctified richness when He allowed a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57) to shroud Him, and He was buried in his private tomb.
And He sanctified money, having a box for His group into which donators can place money in it (John 12:6). He sanctified money when He praised the widow that paid two mites into the treasury (Luke 21:2). Thus money was not evil in itself, but the evil was in the worship of money and relying on money and not upon God.
These are mere samples of what the Lord Christ, to Him is Glory, sanctified.
When we remember all this, may we work at sanctifying everything that pertains to us, so that our whole life is holy for the Lord, in all that we do…
In conclusion, be blessed from the Lord, absolved from His Holy Spirit.
Pope Shenouda III
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark