• Torzhestvo

    ROCA Celebration 2

NATIVITY EPISTLE of The Right Reverend Andrei Bishop of Yarraville and Australia 2017

NATIVITY EPISTLE of The Right Reverend Andrei Bishop of Yarraville and Australia 2017

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

What do we celebrate, brothers and sisters, on this day of the Nativity? - The event, which astounded myriads of heavenly hosts. However, only a few people in the whole world attended it. Thus, in silence and in secret was accomplished the great mystery of the regeneration of man, which was preconceived in the Divine Providence even before the world was created. The mystery of God’s Providence, from the beginning of the world has been hidden not from men only but even from angels. “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived God has prepared these things for those who love him”(1 Cor. 2:9).

What was this mystery of our salvation? This is how St. Paul speaks about it: “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim.3, 16). “The Word was made flesh” (John 1, 14) – says St John, the Evangelist. The Son and The Word of God, invisible and incorporeal is seen as an infant. He, Who is from the beginning, is born of the Virgin. He, Who is everywhere present and infinite, is being wrapped in swaddling clothes and put into the manger. “All the fullness of God dwells” in the little body of the Infant(Col. 2, 9).The angels stooped to the cave of the Nativity and were looking at Christ the Infant lying in the manger, who is invisible for them in His Divinity.

Mysterious acts of God take place in silence. The world does not notice them and continues its everyday life. Exactly 100 years ago in distant, snow-covered Tobolsk, the Tsar's family, forgotten and abandoned, celebrated their last Nativity. The One-Who-Restrains was taken away from the Earth, and the mystery of lawlessness could already accomplish its work without hindrance. Great was the price that the Russian people paid for its spiritual blindness. For the blood of the Anointed One, the Tsaritsa-martyrand five innocent royal children, rivers of blood were shed. The time predicted by St. Seraphim came, that angels would not be fast enough to receive souls. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the persecution of the Church in Russia. The Russian Church has been adorned with the innumerable New Martyrs and Confessors.

Now, 100 years later, the mystery of lawlessness is already acting shamelessly, boldly, openly. It is already becoming a reality that, just as it was in the early Christian times or as it was in times of persecution in Russia, Christians around the world will constitute a persecuted minority.

The Magi came to worship the newborn Child as a mighty King. But now His kingdom is not of this world. This world is the dominion of the devil, the enemy of God. His domain is sin and passion, through which his power reaches in to the hearts of men. The Lord’s kingdom is the Church, the kingdom of truth, love, righteousness and peace. The Church is something completely opposite to the world, where falsehood, cruelty and selfishness dominate. However, in order to take part in this kingdom of Righteousness, we have to lead a constant warfare with sin in our heart.

The saddest phenomenon of our time is not even that spiritual darkness is gathering, but that there is no light where we could expect it - in the true Church. To our shame, we must admit that True Orthodoxy has become a standing joke, an object of ridicule. But we believe that for the sake of the prayers of the New Martyrs, the Lord will not leave the Russian Church even to the end. Let those be put to shame who preach that the Russian Church ceased to exist and that we should join other local Churches.

The Prophet Isaiah has proclaimed more than 700 years before the Nativity of Christ: “Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted, God with us”(Mat.1:23)

Truly, God is with us, to hear our prayers and to absolve our sins. Truly, God is with us in the Mystery of the Eucharist. God is with us, when He unites us with Him through the Communion of His Body and Blood. The Body of Christ, which we receive in the Mystery, is none other than the Body, which was born of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. When the Virgin wrapped Christ, the new-born, in swaddling clothes, She put Him into the manger, which is a feeding trough for cattle. God’s Providence revealed through this, that Christ was born on Earth in order to feed us, who became like dumb animals, with His own Body. Christ is the Heavenly Bread, “he who eats of this bread shall live forever” (John 6,51).Through His incarnation Christ became everything for us: food, drink, raiment and abode.

Christ is born, glorify Him; Christ is coming from Heavens, come to meet Him”- we sing in the canon of the feast. The Lord drew near to us in His incarnation; let us come nearer to Him through prayer, repentance and partaking of His Mysteries. The more we draw near to Him, the more He comes near to us.

Amen

Bishop Andrei

Nativity 2017/2018

Source