Bishop Irinej: Archpastoral Nativity Message
Christ is from Heaven – receive Him!
Christ is on earth – be exalted!
Sing to the Lord all the earth!
(St Gregory the Theologian)
Our much beloved Clergy and Monastics, Sons and Daughters, Our dear Spiritual Children,
Celebrating today the Birth of Christ according to the flesh, and repeating those same all joyous and wondrous words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, we hear the words of life which throughout the ages invite us to hasten and encounter Him, who came down from heaven. Those same words invite us to open our hearts! Be exalted with Him, who for us took on our human body. Christ is born let all the earth, sing! Let the people sing and rejoice, for unto us Almighty God is born as a little child!
Truly, the Almighty Word of God became incarnate and seeks incarnation in all areas of our lives: in family and community, in city and town, in all the land and on every continent, to free us from the bondage of the spiritual danger of enslavement and suffering that burdens all humanity, keeping this, our world in a lifeless spasm of fear and indifference. In order to enable this, the Almighty came down from heaven and allowed Himself to be held in the warm embrace of His gentle Mother. He invites us now into that community of His love wherein faith is indeed, trust without which neither man nor any society can exist.
So that we too may achieve such trust in our own lives and community and convey the same to the world, the Divine Child asks us to overcome our inner conflicts, and only then, conflicts in the family, the community and thereby the world. Wherefore, the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit seeks a place in our heart, to heal us from our inner maladies, and to enlighten that darkness within, that we may ascend to the measure of His greatness. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory (Rom. 8:14-17).
Peace, only deep and sincere inner peace, which is the fruit of trust, not zeal, is that alone which brings about a pure and blameless heart, a heart in which the Newborn Lord alone can dwell. For, in the words of Saint Isaac the Syrian: If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to His Father?
Precisely such trust led the Wise Men to the Child, who was born under the Star of Bethlehem! Through trust, those, such as the simple shepherds who following the song of angels experienced joy and peace! However, neither peace nor joy could touch the hearts of Herod and those who wanted to destroy the Child. For every evil intent and malice, only serve to separate us from trust, as they are incompatible with inner peace. Those who cannot trust do not have faith and merely sow seeds of evil and discord, insanely attempting to humiliate persons and condemn peoples.
Our Mother Church invites us today to encounter Christ who comes to us from heaven. And what can each of us do in order to meet Him? We must do the same as the Wise Men and the shepherds and not as Herod and those, the likeness of his might, in all actuality the mindless of this world. The Divine Child invites us to stand upright supported by faith, faith which is today, as ever, a challenge, the challenge of trust. The greater the trust, the more real a personal relationship is with Christ, and the greater and broader is our heart which leads to trust in our families and communities and everything that is human in the world. For only the Church can offer Christ as community. Never remote, never argumentative, free of might, it can offer the light of the Star of Bethlehem to enlighten our human hearts.
With warm paternal regards, We pray that our Heavenly Father bestow upon all a blessed New Year of salvation in which all the earth will sing, a New Year of mutual love, peace and trust; whereby We invoke blessings on all of you and His love, greeting you on the Great Feast of Christ's Birth with the most joyous Christmas salutation:
GOD’S PEACE — CHRIST IS BORN!
TRULY, HE IS BORN!
Given in Sydney at Christmas in the Year 2012
Your earnest intercessor before the crib of the Divine Infant Christ,
Bishop of the Metropolitanate Australia and New Zealand