Bishop Irinej: The precondition in searching for God is peace in our hearts
Love was incarnate and seeks of us who are bearers of His most pure image, that within us we realise even His likeness which we have distorted by our sins. If we were to realise this, we would redeem not only ourselves, but humanity in its entirety from this valley of temptations.
Today, from an overflowing heart we repeat those same words of the great Prophet Isaiah, for unto us truly is born a Child, unto us a Son is given! The Divine Youth was incarnate for us and for our salvation! Let us rejoice, therefore, always for Christ our Saviour is born!
As your Аrchpastor, responding, as Isaiah to the summons of the Lord, walking with you through the valley of temptations and beholding about us all of you, His holy flock, the people of God, joyfully we cry out before the cradle of the New-born: Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me! (Is. 8:18).
Truly, beloved children, beholding the world about us, we see that the ways of today throughout the entire world are but diversions, one mindless pilgrimage through the valley of temptation. However, the Incarnate God pours into us plentiful hope, for in the midst of a harsh reality which has dominated humanity, from economic crises to societal fragmentation, from battles for justice to unrest and wars; our Saviour and Redeemer comes to us as a new-born Child – precisely an innocent Child. For He within Himself as God Almighty reveals the might of innocence. Our Wonderful God and Counsellor fills the world by His birth according to the flesh with the light of purity which stems only and exclusively from that new life. For us that new life is: a life in Him who alone offers us boundless possibilities.
That Child which was born for us is the God of love, as is told to us by the holy son of thunder John, the apostle and evangelist, the Theologian of love! The Son which is given unto us is Love! And if God is with us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31). For according to the teaching of Saint Philaret of Moscow: For God to be with us, it is necessary for us to be with Him! This is commanded by almighty Love, for God is Love! (1 John 4:8). Therefore, the beloved disciple and apostle, of all the exulted names, chose that one and only name: the name which describes the incomprehensible depth of God’s essence – LOVE!
Good children, precisely He who is Love holds authority on His shoulder, for the Mighty God throughout the ages became the Son of Man in time. Love was incarnate and seeks of us who are bearers of His most pure image, that within us we realise even His likeness which we have distorted by our sins. If we were to realise this, we would redeem not only ourselves, but humanity in its entirety from this valley of temptations. For, according to Saint Seraphim of Sarov the salvation of this world begins with our own peace: Acquire peace within yourself and a thousand souls about you shall be saved! That which remains is for Love to incarnate itself in us that Christ takes up His abode in our hearts so that we would not be like those who have everything but have not love (I Cor. 13: 1-3).
Every person who sincerely seeks love for themselves and for the world is a God-seeker. Of course, the precondition in such searching for God is that peace abides in our hearts and only thereafter, through us, peace in the world. As Christ, the Prince of Peace, is born for us today, we are asked, according to that measure which depends on us, to live in peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18). For He who is the God of peace (Rom. 15:33) grants us His peace, and we as co-workers of God, according to the teaching of our Holy Patriarch Pavle, should do all that we can to create peace and as peace-makers to be called truly His sons and daughters.
On this Feast of Love Incarnate, this wonderful feast of our salvation, we wholeheartedly pray to the Word of God, which in His perfected humility accepted our human body, so that we also could receive from His humility the gift of purity and simplicity of a child. We pray that with the Grace of Christ in truth our thoughts, intentions and all our deeds as people, the people of God, the children of our only Mother, His Holy Church, will be fulfilled.
With warm paternal regards we pray that the Eternal Father will grant all of us a blessed New Year of the Lord, a new epoch of common love and peace in Christ, invoking upon all of you His blessings and love, and greeting you on this Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ with the most joyous Christmas salutation:
GOD’S PEACE — CHRIST IS BORN!
TRULY, HE IS BORN!
Archpastoral Nativity Encyclical 2011 of Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand Irinej here.