“Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! / Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! / Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: / If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. / Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of the Forefeast of the Nativity)
Christ comes, indeed, to “restore,” to “make right” what goes “wrong” in our paradise. In our paradise, we tend to seek out “food” that isn’t good for us; to nurture ourselves in unhealthy ways. Today our unhealthy “nourishment” is commonly useless information that we might choose to imbibe on a daily basis, through various news outlets and social media. This kind of information, if we immerse ourselves in it outside God’s word and grace, commonly brings us painful self-awareness, either through fear (of calamities in the world, like terrorist attacks), or delusional comparison with other people’s lives and fortunes, like the lives and fortunes of celebrities.
In reading up on the news I may have a good intention, because I want to better myself by knowing things. But if I constantly choose to seek this betterment outside God, with disregard for His word, I obscure His image in me, “the image He made in the beginning.” I am left in burdensome communion with the self, with the merely human, as Eve did when she trusted the serpent’s promise, that “your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3: 5)
Christ brings me new vision and a new communion, with Himself, the Divine Fruit. He liberates me from the bondage of the merely-human through His light, that “blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave.” Today as I continue my journey to that cave in Bethlehem, let me take some time to sit in His light, in a bit of prayer and reading of His word. Let Him restore in me what I tend to lose when left to my own devices. “Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning.”