ON THE FEAST OF THE LORD’S NATIVITY 2006
by the Grace of God
Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the
To the Beloved Clergy and Right-Believing Christians,
Peace and Holy Joy from Christ the Lord,
and from us Hierarchal Blessings.
“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy
which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
Most Reverend Fathers,
On this Royal Feast day, I greet you with the words of the angels who bore the glad tidings of the miracle in the
This joy is proclaimed by the angels not only to the shepherds, but to the entire creation. In the Kontakion of the Feast we say that the earth presents the cave to Him who is beyond reach, and in other songs we say that the cave and the manger received Him. The whole universe participates in God’s descent to earth, and rejoices at the sending of the Savior. Heaven and earth have been made one today, now that Christ is born, says a verse from Vespers.
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, was God’s command at the creation of man (Gen. 1:28). As the crown of creation, in man not only were all the elements of the universe brought together, the material and the spiritual, but he was also given the responsibility to offer up this universe to the Creator, to spiritualize the world and lift it up to God. Father Stăniloae speaks of a powerful bond between man and the world: The world or nature is a part of the nature of man, and as such is a condition of the existence and the development of man on earth. But nature is also the medium of inter-human communication; through nature man influences his fellow man, for good or evil. Fallen in sin, man loses his very reason for existing here on this earth, and together with him the entire creation suffers. The creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it, says
But God did not abandon mankind, nor the world which He had created. In the fullness of time, He sent His only Son to take upon himself the body of man, who had strayed, and to be received by creation, which was headed for destruction. A verse from Matins says: The Creator, seeing humanity that he had made with his own hands perishing, bowed the heavens and came down; but he took its whole being from a divine, pure Virgin, being made truly flesh; for he has been glorified. Another song says, The Master, by his coming in the flesh, harsh hatred against him utterly cut through, strength of the murderer of souls destroyed, and united the world to immaterial beings, making his Father gentle to creation. The incarnation of the Son of God has restored peace between mankind and God, has re-established the entire creation in its original relation of communion, the grace of God being shared with the creation. This, then, is the joy which it behooves us to proclaim, following the example of the angels, as we hear in the words of a Kathisma from Matins: Let heaven rejoice and let earth be glad, because the Lamb of God has been born on earth, granting redemption to the world.
If we understand the purpose of this joy offered to us by the Savior’s Nativity, then we must take the next step and take advantage now of this opportunity, which is for each and every person. Christ is born; glorify Him, we all sing together, using the present tense. The Lord’s Birth is a present and significant event, in our time now, and where we live. The reconciliation which Christ brought between God and man, between God and the world, is operative now. Receiving Christ, allowing His peace to dwell in our souls, we make ourselves also instruments for the salvation of the world, of nature which surrounds us. Out of our life, filled with Christ, can flow healing for nature which has been exploited beyond measure, for the entire world which waits to be rescued. Remember that, in the words of Father Stăniloae, through this nature we can help our neighbor to receive God. The salvation brought by Christ applies also to our relationship with our fellow man. Through sin we have lost the profoundness of the knowledge of our fellow man, but God has restored it to us through the Incarnation of the Son. The path of Christian living takes us through this struggle to rediscover what is really happening with the people around us. This struggle is no longer a simply human effort, however, for Christ the Savior is with us to show us the path toward the soul of our neighbor. And this is yet another reason to sing Christ comes from heaven, go to meet him!
Beloved brethren in Christ,
On this glorious Feast I urge you to remember the significance of the joy of the Incarnation of the Son of God, that we may understand our responsibilities for ourselves and for the world, that we may view the world with love and seek to restore it through the grace of Christ which descends upon us. It behooves us, the priests and faithful of our Archdiocese, to rejoice also for the blessings which God has poured out upon us. At the Congress last July we adopted new Statutes for our Archdiocese, which gives us a new foundation for mission; and we also participated in the ordination of His Grace, the Right Reverend Father Ioan Casian of Vicina, as Vicar Bishop of our Archdiocese—a new cause to rejoice and offer thanks to God.
On this Feast Day, I wish you all joyful holidays, with health, peace, and fulfillment for your families and loved ones. May the New Year be blessed, may we increase in hope, and grow in our faith in God.
I embrace you with brotherly love in Christ the Lord and pray that you may pass the Holy Feasts of Christmas, the New Year, and Theophany in health and peace.
Your brother in prayer before God,
The Feast of the Lord’s Nativity, 2006