Fr. Daniel Byantoro: Nativity Letter 2010

Dear Friends,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

The self-offering of Christ on the cross for our redemption is possible only because of His assuming our human flesh from His human Mother at the time of His Nativity in Bethlehem. It is the voluntary act of self-giving and self-emptying (Philippians 2:5-6) of the Divine Self that our meaningless lives of sin could be made full by His Divinity. This is the essence of the purpose of the coming of Christ into the world. The Nativity can be understood in its fullness only in the light of the cross and the empty tomb, His self-sacrifice.

In Indonesia as in other Islamic cultures, there are two major feasts: Eid al-Fitr celebrated after the conclusion of the Ramadhan Fast, and Eid al-Adha celebrated after the conclusion of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) season. On Wednesday, November. 17, 2010, Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha, or feast of sacrifice, by slaughtering sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son, Ishmael/Ismail, the ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad and the Arab world. In Orthodox Christianity, animal sacrifice has been superseded in Jesus Christ. Christ is the supreme sacrifice that was given by God in our place, just as the goat given by God to Abraham was a substitute for his son, Isaac (Genesis 22: 10-14).

We participate in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross through our faith expressed in baptism united in his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11), and through our frequent participation in Holy Communion where we partake His Body and Blood (I Corinthians 10:16). Through our union in the Sacrifice of Christ, we are also told to offer the Sacrifice of ourselves in imitation of His Sacrifice, where we have to “…..continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of [our] lips, giving thanks to His name…. not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

(Hebrew 13:15-16). In this verse, it is said that “to do good and to share” is the real form of sacrifice, whereby “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Our living sacrifice to God is ongoing.

I am thankful that this ministry is one of the ways that you have chosen to participate in Christ’s sacrifice. As we journey through this Advent season, preparing to join Christ liturgically as He begins his earthly ministry, I pray that you will continue to be “fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 5-8) with us in this small part of Christ’s ministry on earth as we seek to reach out to the Indonesian people.

In Christ,

Fr. Daniel Byantoro