Dance with the Angels

From “Homily for the Birth of Christ,” 6 (ca. 367)

Look deeply into this mystery. God comes in the flesh in order to destroy the death concealed in flesh. In the same way as remedies and medications triumph over the factors of corruption when they are assimilated into the body, and in the same way as the darkness which reigns in a house is dispelled by the entry of light, so death, which held human nature n its power, was annihilated by the coming of the Godhead.

In the same way as ice, when in water, prevails over the liquid element as long as it is night, and darkness covers everything, but is dissolved when the sun comes up, under the warmth of its rays; so death reigned till the coming of Christ; but when the saving grace of God appeared and the sun of justice rose, death was swallowed up in this victory, being unable to endure the sojourn of the true Life among us. O, the depth of the goodness of God and of his love for all of us!

Let us give glory to God with the shepherds, let us dance in choir with the angels, for “this day a Savior has been born to us, the Messiah and the Lord.” He is the Lord who has appeared to us, not in his divine form, in order to terrify us in our weakness, but in the form of a servant, that he might set free what had been reduced to servitude. Who could be so faint-hearted and so ungrateful as not to rejoice and exult in gladness for what is taking place? It is a festival that is common to all creation.

Let us shout our joy; let us give to our festival the name of Theophany. Let us celebrate the salvation of the world, the day when humanity was born. Today Adam’s condemnation has been lifted. We shall no longer say, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” but “United to him who is in heaven, you shall be lifted up to heaven.”

St. Basil the Great (330-379) was Bishop of Caesarea and a devoted advocate of Nicene Christology, traditionally acclaimed as one of the four Eastern Doctors of the Church. A rule written by him is the basis of communal monastic life in the Eastern Church, and he founded the first major Christian hospital. His feast day is June 14.


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