Bishop Andrei’s Nativity Epistle
Dear Fathers, brothers and concelebrants, mothers and sisters,
I greet you with the great Feast of Christ’s Nativity!
Christ was born from the Ever-pure Virgin Mary, became man, so as to unite mankind with Him. Today “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations …has been revealed … which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26-27), in the words Apostle Paul.
Christianity is a Mystery, which the world is unable to contain. Christ mysteriously yet really lives and acts in the hearts of those who believe in Him. A Christian life is an effectual spiritual unity with Christ. Just as the Son of God was bodily conceived in the womb of the Blessed Mother of God, so is He conceived in a Christian’s heart through faith and the Mysteries of the Church – Baptism and Holy Communion. Holy Apostle Paul prayed for his disciples in the following way: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph 3:14-17).
And in his Epistle to the Galatians the Apostle says: “My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19). Here, the use of the word “formed” is the same one applied when discussing the formation of an infant in a mother’s womb. Just as an infant grows and assumes its semblance in the mother’s womb, likewise Christ – as an infant – is formed in our heart according to the measure of how we mould ourselves by His commandments, and are likened to Him: “Till we all come … to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13).
Christ is mysteriously present in each of His Commandments, of which we will direct our special attention at the following: not judging others, forgiveness, patience and meekness.
The teaching of the Church on Christ’s indwelling is not a metaphor, but a reality. He becomes like a soul of our soul, while our heart becomes His temple.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14) was the Angels’ glorification of Christ’s Nativity, because Christ, as God’s peace and the Father’s goodwill, came down to earth and dwelt with people.
Today, there is an extreme shortage of peace where it is most appropriate i.e. in Church. The Church has become an arena for battle of each against all. The Gospel’s prophesies about the last days are being realised: “And then many will fall away, and they will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Mat. 24:10).
What is it that impedes the establishment of peace within the Church? Before all else, it’s a false idea of the Church as an external organization or jurisdiction. Thus, life in the Church is understood as a formal affiliation with a particular organization or society. This generates party-line thinking – the division into friends and foes: ours and not ours: petty, mercenary interests and church politics. The source of this deviation is the absence of spiritual life – spiritual blindness.
It’s time we left the unreasonable faith in the saving jurisdiction and concerned ourselves with establishing our Lord Jesus Christ’s saving dominion in our hearts.
Let our hearts become the cave of Christ’s Nativity and the manger where He was placed.
“Christ is Born, glorify Him! Christ is from Heaven, go out to meet Him! Christ is on earth, be ye exalted!