January 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

I was asked recently about the salvation of those who came before the Incarnation. "How can they be saved?" What also of those who never hear the Gospel? Well, for those who came before the first Christmas, of course, there is the belief that Christ descended into hell and released everyone from the beginning oftime who wanted to be released. For the others, we must think more broadly, for surely their Creator has not forgotten them. He who leaves the ninety-nice to find the one could not bear to lose even one.

Thomas Merton once wrote of the Incarnation of the Son of God as sunlight through a magnifying glass. The rays are captured and focused like a laser. This focused light is able to set things on fire. The Incarnation is like that. All creation is set afire by the coming of God in the flesh. All the light of God was concentrated in this miraculous event in one divine person, specifically in one place and one time, so that now we can "see, hear, touch and taste him," as St. John writes. All light, all truth, all beauty, all goodness are made manifest in him for in him dwells "all the fullness ofthe Godhead" and all the fullness of humanity as well united in his person.

So, we can say, as does Jesus, that he and his Father are at work always to bring the creation into the fullness of divine life. Fr. Schmemann famously said, "We can say where the Church is, but we cannot say where the Church is not." And Olivier Clement wrote that "not one blade of grass grows outside the Church." This broad and inclusive view of Church is precisely where we must rest when asking the question of universal salvation. We know what we know and we do not know what we do not know, but God knows all and is responsible for all and it remains for us to have faith and to share the Gospel with words "if necessary" and always with acts and deeds of mercy, compassion and kindness while the Holy Trinity works His wonders throughout the length and breadth ofthe cosmos.

If God is love, then he is love for all. The entire creation benefits from his goodness. The Incarnation is, for us, proof of this for God in Christ embraces all in his divine person. No one is left out. All matter itself is deified through his material body. Not one atom is left out. Zoroastrians, for example, saw the star and brought gifts to the Christ Child. We know them as the Three Magi. Then they disappear from view. We hear of them no more except in legend. They were searchers for truth and ''worshippers of the stars" and yet God did not reject them for this. He called to them through the stars they worshipped and they heard his voice for they were ready to hear. I venture to surmise that they had heard this voice before or they would not have recognized it.

Let us strive to make our lives living gospels and share the amazing message of God become flesh through acts of love and leave judgment to God.

Christ is Born!

+Fr. Antony Hughes