Christmas Epistle of His Beatitude Sviatoslav
Christ is born!
Hearing the voice of the angel which could be heard by the shepherds in the dark night, we are hurrying today to the poor stable in Bethlehem. Here in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see the Son of God who came into our world as a human being. Together with them we rejoice, we sing praises, and we look upon the live and true God, who was born in a human body and gives himself to the hands of a person as a tiny, tender, unprotected Child.
The Nativity of our Savior uncovers for us the depths of Divine Life as well as the whole truth about the human person. The One who appeared today in a human body existed well before the creation of the world, because as the eternal God from time immemorial from the Father imperishably as a Son. This sacrament of God’s paternity of Jesus Christ — that in itself is inexpressible and incomprehensible – today appears and preaches to humankind. This feast makes the Divine status of a son accessible to us, and proclaims that our God the Father loves us as His sons and daughters. In His newborn Son we experience today our closeness to God, just as warm, powerful, real, and life-rendering as is the tremor of the closeness of a loving father to his only first son.
By gazing into the face of God’s Son and His Mother Mary, we realize that the Feast of the Nativity permits us to discover the truth about our humanness, about our own humanity, which became a sign of God’s presence: “Here is a sign,” said the angel to the shepherds, “you will find a swaddled infant lying in the manger” (Luke 2: 12). This Child – is the God of Israel who was recently born in human form by the Virgin without a seed. This Child immediately delegates the person of St. Joseph the Betrothed with the strange role of being his guardian. In the Nativity of Christ we accept the eternal God in the form in which we ourselves are. Because, in general, people yearn that someone take care of them. And here, in Bethlehem, God Himself, as a child, is the one who is being cared for by a human family!
Humanness, the feeling of the sacredness of the human life and a respect for it – that is the touching and redemptive path on which during this sacramental night the Son of God as the Son of Mary, comes to our home, our family, our people. And this divine humanness – the God-given humanness of the incarnated Son of God opens up for us today the Christmas road of love towards God and neighbor. In celebrating Christmas together with the travelers and the homeless, in solidarity with those who are disrespected and whose dignity is negated, we, Christians, as real guardians and bearers of good news of the presence of God among us, are making our world, our society, more humane and more dignified for the Person.
The Nativity of the Son of God, discloses together with the greatness and the glory of our God – the Creator and Savior, the greatness and the glory of the person as the crowning wreath of all creations. In his incarnation God expresses a special dignity for the human being because he injects himself into such a being – into his image. Saint Ireneus of Lione taught: When the Word became body, becoming thus, that in whose image it was, this made humans similar to the invisible Father through the visible Word (Adv. Haer5, 16, 2).
In glorifying the dignity of the human being, Christ’s Church today sings “Let us call upon Christ the Lord: You who have raised our strength, Blessed are you, oh Lord!” Similarly to how the coming to earth of the Son of God through incarnation became the center of world history, so also the respect for the dignity of the human person is the nucleus of the authentic, truly humane society. The Church teaches that the social institutions and their leaders should respect every person and that their primary task is the enhancement of a person’s integral development. A person cannot be used as the means for the realization of economic, social or political plans, thrust upon by secular authorities. These authorities have to carefully track that any limitation of freedom or any sort of burden placed on the personal life of the person should never demean one’s human dignity. (Compedium of Church Social Doctrines, p.131-133).
Every society in which a person is slighted does not have a future. The source of just laws and a social order should be the dignity of the human person. A person in oneself is the nucleus of the union of the temporal and the eternal, the Divine and the human; a person is that door to eternity which was opened through His humankind by the Son of God on the day of His Nativity. Therefore, to celebrate the Nativity means to keep the doors of our hearts open to the dignity of a person, especially the weak and unprotected, just as is the Divine Child, cradled in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Today Ukrainian society, already for the “-nth” time in history is demonstrating that it yearns to build its own future on
the foundations of Christian faith. The Newborn Savior is the fulfillment of the hopes of all mankind for the coming of the
Kingdom of God – a kingdom of justice, peace, and goodness. The birth of this kind of an eternal King of Peace was
announced by the angel when he told the shepherds: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: today there was born in the city of David a Savior (Luke 2: 10-11).
How important is it for us, at this historic moment, to hear the words of the bearer of the good news, to feel that Christ himself is the source of our joy and to stop being afraid! In Christ’s Nativity, may our anxiety be transformed into hope, our confusion and insecurity become transformed into a path to the Lord’s manger. On this Christmas Day, when according to the words of Apostle Paul, the power of God exhibits itself in human inability (por 11 Cor. 12, 9), our feeling of helplessness transforms itself into a realization of one’s own dignity. Due to the deeds of the Holy Spirit this realization of one’s own dignity becomes a strength which will help us to build a society, worthy of humans. That is why today, in glorifying the strength of divine humanness, we sing “You, who raised our strength, be Blessed, oh Lord!”
Beloved in Christ! On this joyful day of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, I give all of you my sincerest greetings.
Christ is born!
Let us glorify Him!
In wishing you goodness and peace, harmony and well-being, I yearn to knock on the door of every Ukrainian family! With the voice of an ancient carol I hope to cheer up every Ukrainian heart! In spreading the great joy about the birth of Our Savior, I want to gather our whole Church — both in Ukraine and beyond its borders – around the Bethlehem manger — into one united God’s community!
Let us feel ourselves as one Christian family in which today there is born our Savior. Through human and Christian solidarity let us touch everyone who preserves their own dignity, the dignity of their family and their people! Let us share our Nativity Joy with those who find themselves far away from home, who are on a hospital bed or on prison planks.
All together, following the beams of the Star, let us hasten to our neighbor to see in flesh the Invisible, in His poverty – the Source of all goodness, in the weak – the Almighty – Newborn Christ God, embraced by the Virgin Mother.
Issued in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ
on 19 December, Year of the Lord 2013
on the Feast of St. Nicholas, archbishop of Myr Likiysk, Miracleworker