Christmas Epistle of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

Thursday, 25 December 2014, 10:30
Archbishops and Metropolitans, God-loving bishops, dear brothers and sisters in Ukraine and in settlements aound the world. Fear not, for I bring you great joy today in the City of David was born the Savior -- Christ the Lord (Luke 2, 10-11)

Christ is Born!

With these words of the good messenger from heaven, Christ's Church pronounces the salvation news.Today a Savior was born to us:  God descended to earth and appeared in a human body in the city of Bethlehem.  Heaven and earth rejoices in this;  all humans rejoice in the fact that our Creator did not abandon His creation, but came, in order to take on its fate.  He became a person in order to share with them their life, its sorrows and joys, its anxieties and insecurities.  God becomes one of us, shows himself as our Savior and Redeemer.

We rejoice in the Nativity of Christ because we no longer feel alone and abandoned, we celebrate that God is with us, that He loves us and we see the incarnation of God's love in the newly born Baby Jesus who tenderly rests in the  manger on straw.    The mystery of the birth of our Redeeemer exposes for us the truth how the great Godly opens to us through the weak human, how the human small and  unmeaningful can become the Godly great!

The priviledge of being near God's Child had together with the wise men from the east, only those who were not ashamed to be among the needy, the exiled, and the persecuted.

The Holy Gospel tells us that the Lord of the Universe was born  in a family of refugees. First through the  order of ceasar and then through the blood thirstiness of King Herod, the Holy Family was forced to leve its domicile and to ask for shelter among strangers.  So Our God wanted to be born as homeless and a refugee!  Due to such strange circumstances of the birth of the Savior, the priviledge to be near God's Child had together with the wise men of the east only those who were not ashamed to  be next to the needy, the exiled, and the persecuted.  In opening to Him the doors of their hearts, their homes, in recognizing the sign of  salvation in God who was born in a stable, these people were filled with divine joy during the darkness of the night.  Because  the Sacrament of the Nativity  is the ability to enter the presence of God and to meet the newly-born Christ through the  ability of being nearby: to be next to the one who is powerless and unprotected, the one who suffers from the cold and the lack of the most necessary things.

Ukraine lived through a striking year in which everything was big:  hope and sorrow,  confidence and disappointment, gains and losses.  Also the fear, felt by the Darkness was big, seeing that our passion for the Light may be victorious.  And the Darkness sent upon us pain and blood, cripplehood and even death, so that people would be scared enough by these sufferings and turn back quietly to the old path of silent and  non-contradictory subordination.   

There is no Ukrainian who did not participate in this examination of God's Providence that continues to exist.  In some sense we are all today in a risk zone, in the ATO zone.  Similarily to the shephards who in the place where they were leading their herd, heard the song of the angels in heaven and received the news about the birth of the Savior, so does each one of us have one's place of spiritual adoration,         one's blogpost on which one should fulfill  one's own Christian and citizen's mission.  And even if someone is tired and wants to avoid choices, nevertheless one makes them.  Only in this case one's passivity permits one to play for the benefit of evil.

This year, our road to the Nativity was the road towards the wounded and the exiled.  Our Church in the practical sense became a field hospital, developed in order to give a refuge to those being chased and to heal the wounds of the victims.  However, even after the Maidan, the Church did not relinguish its function as a hospital, since that is its calling.  Pope Francis reminds  us of this:  "I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle."

No one of us was ready for war, yet it lasts, and uninvited breaks into almost every  Ukrainian home, especially in the eastern territories of our country.  There emerges a danger that human sensitivity to misfortune and suffering of the neighbor will decrease.  Christians know that indifference kills no less than the mechanisms of the HRAD artillery.   The government's job is to wisely solve the problem of assisting its suffering citizens.  And the job of every Christian  -- to be near, to be next  to those who are in trouble.  It is exactly this Christian unity with the needy that we call solidarity and that makes us stronger.  Because it is through  this that is seen, and through it is passed, the strength of the incarnated God, the act of the Savior, who was born in order to make us free and unconquerable in God.  During Christmas time, each one of us looks up at the sky in the hope that we will see the light of the Bethlehem Star.  But the New Year does not promise to be easier, nor will our choices be simpler.

Our greatest task in the Year 2015  is to find the road of civilized development and dignified life.  In order to do this, we all have to dress in another garb  --  that of a God's person, that is to give up undignified compromises with the evil one.  This is a task that belongs to each one of us -- even the one who perceives oneself as the smallest in this world.  To position  one's life on the side of good, also makes enormous citizenship sense, because when the Ukrainian woman and the Ukrainian man will change, then the whole country will also change.   All together we have to dress it in the new jewelery of effective government  structures which will finally cease to be the structures of sin.  After all, a government can be a blessing if it becomes a service.     

It is impossible to fulfill both tasks, without at least once feeling doubt, without making a mistake, without taking a step backwards.  Let us not feel perfect pride  ---  better let us admit before God our weaknesses and quietly ask:  God, help me with my weakness!  A quiet person does not lose faith in their stength, because according to the words of Ivan Franko, "feels on his shoulder God's hand."

Therefore, let us remember that doubt, disappointment, revengeful desire to get even with someone  who did not fulfill our expectations   -- those are instruments with which Darkness most effectively renews its lost positions.  Let us not assist Darkness to ruin our chances!  Trouble does not lie in the fact that we are not able to do everything. Trouble lies in the fact that we give up.

We have one more tasks which we should never doubt. It is the task of praying.   The Maidan  was victorious because people prayed fervently and sincerely.  therefore, let us remember.  Today, let us not permit that due to a certian kind of  "Getting used to war", we weaken the intensity of our prayers.  Let us direct all efforts of our soul that in our families and communities there be uninterrupted prayers for 

Ukraine, that in our government premises, as if in the poor Bethlehem manger, there shine the light of faith, that our hearts be cleansed, that new life be born.  And then, possessing God's blessings, we will become the  most happy people on earth.

During the dark night of uncertainty and anxiety, there sounds the ancestral carol which blows away all sadness and difficulties...   With this Nativity good news, I would like to visit all the homes of good people who receive in their abode the newly-born God and Savior and rejoice in Christ's Nativity!

Today we bring the Nativity Greetings to our soldiers who are celebrating this great feast  in  cold trenches and army shelters on  the front lines ready to protect their people with their own bodies.   With festive wishes of  goodness and well-being, we visit those who have los their homes and the warmth of their own familly.  With the song of angels about peace on earth and glory in the highest, let us visit today those, who are saddened by the loss of family and close ones, those who suffer from wounds, and those who are in captivity or imprisoned. 

Just as on this Christmas night, joy overcomes sadness, and heavenly light, the Darkness, so may in his Nativity our Savior fill us with the strength of choosing good over evil, truth over falsehood, and may heavenly peace  over come war.

To all of our faithful in Ukraine and in settlements, I wholeheartedly wish  Happy Holydays of the Feast of Christ's Nativity, a delicious kutia, and melodious carols.!

 

Christ is born!  Let us glorify Him!

                                                          †   SVIATOSLAV

 

 

Published in Kyiv

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ

on the day of St. Mykolay, Archbishop Myr Lykiyskyj , Miracle Worker

 

on December 19, Year of the Lord 2014

 

 

 

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