CHRIST THE PEACE OF GOD IS BORN!
„Christ is born, glorify Him;
Christ has come from heaven, greet Him;
Christ is on earth, exalt yourselves ..“
(Irmos of the First Ode).
With these words, brothers and sisters, the Holy Church invites Her faithful children and all people of goodwill, for spiritual celebration and joy, because today, „The bridegroom is born unto us, the Son is given unto us,“ whose name is Emmanuel – which means ‘God is with us’. The Holy Mother invites us to worship God, who is born in the form of man, becoming like us in all but sin.
Therefore, let us rise above all corruptible and transient things, and with a pure mind and heart, let us travel together with the Angels and the shepherds, for on this night the dearest Guest who ever visited the earth came to visit us. The Saviour came to save men from sin, death, and the Devil. The Lawgiver came to announce to the world the perfect law of God, the law of spirit, of Truth and of love. The Great Master descended through the heavens, to offer Himself a sacrifice for the salvation of the world. The Emperor arrived to rule the souls of men and to bring out from Hell to Paradise, those who believe in Him as Emperor and God. The Peacemaker came to reconcile Heaven and earth, to bring to the people the Gospel of peace and goodwill.
A great and glorious miracle was achieved today in the Cave of Bethlehem. The Virgin gives birth, and at birth, she still remains a virgin. The Only-Begotten Son and Word of God becomes flesh and is not separated from God the Father. God, Whom the heavens cannot contain, is laid in a little crib. He, Whom the Seraphim cannot approach, is visited by the Wise Men who bow before Him offering gifts. The angels together the shepherds glorify Him, and we sing a new song with them: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth“.
Today, dear spiritual children, all creation celebrates the birth of Christ, because from this bright day, the world is no longer and cannot be what it was before – the dungeon of mankind. Man is no longer trapped in the darkness and shadow of death. He is no longer a stranger to God. Because the Sun of Righteousness – Christ our God – through His divine light enlightens one and all, illuminating every man who comes into the world (Jn 1: 9) and, as „the only new thing under the sun“, brings the holy light of the knowledge of God. For God becomes human. He enters the Queen of Life. He saves man, and He eternally restores all that exists.
And the Saviour came to us at a time when He was most needed by the world, and when no man could help but Him. It was a time of universal sorrow, despair and darkness in the souls of men. At that time, man was the least human. He was more of a devil than a man. The meek Lord came at a time when sin so overwhelmed bloodthirsty humanity, that people sacrificed their children to idols, worshiping stones, sun, moon, and even the Roman Emperor as God.
Christ chose not the imperial court for the place of His birth, but the poor cave of Bethlehem and the sheep’s manger. His arrival on earth was silent, like the arrival of morning dew on the grass. He came as a calm newborn babe, Who had nowhere to lay His head (Mt 8:20). He chose not the Empress for his mother, but an unknown and serene girl called Mary. Indeed, what is poorer than the manger of Bethlehem, more humble than swaddling clothes, more humble than the company of animals and poorer than the cave? The cave of the human body itself is poorer than the cave of Bethlehem. In the manner, the place, and very heart of His Birth, the Lord begins His sermon, preaching the Gospel of obedience, reconciliation and love for God. These redeeming virtues He will also teach us later in word and in deed – by washing the Disciples’ feet, by ascending His Cross and descending to His Burial.
Let us then learn from the Blessed Christ, dear spiritual children, obedience, humility and love that we may reign with Him. We learn from the birth of Christ that He comes calmly and silently, to the people in the cave of the soul possessing the obedience of the Mother of God, the purity of the Angels, the simplicity of the shepherds of Bethlehem, the celestial wisdom guided by the star of Faith. Let us fulfil the Gospel of Christ to celebrate eternally with the Mother of God, the Angels and all the Saints. We also bring gifts to the Lord: true faith, hope and love, as the Wise men once did, with their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. We give thanks to God who, for our own sake became reconciled to us with swaddling clothes and the Cross, when we sacrifice our bodies to Him. And by living holy and God-pleasing lives, we offer up our spiritual worship (Rom.12: 1). We do not carry out the will of the body and the mind (Eph.2:3), but walk in the spirit, avoiding the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). If we are to be like Christ, we must crucify the body, putting to death all its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24), as all the Saints have done before us.
God expects all of this from us. None of this is necessary for Him but for us. For by our labours and good works, by our own daily crucifixion, we show our love for God, and make ourselves capable of receiving His heavenly gifts. Therefore, as children of God by grace, we love God and not the world and what is in the world, namely the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2: 15-16), which is self-indulgency, covetousness and the praise of men.
By His birth, Christ brought the peace of God to the earth. This peace of God is an inner peace, a peace that descends into the soul to make it holy and prepare it for the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the peace of which the Lord will mention later in His farewell speech to His Disciples, saying: “My Peace I leave to you, my peace I give to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives” (Jn 14:27). No one can have this peace without having Christ, and no one can have good will without having Christ. Both peace and goodwill are given only to the person who glorifies God in the right way. The Lord Jesus also came to earth, in order that all the earth might exalt the glory of God on high, and that peace might be established on earth and goodwill among men. For this reason, at the birth of Christ, the Angels sang a new song, the hymn of God’s plan of salvation: „Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men“ (Lk 2:14 ). Unrest on earth comes precisely because people will not glorify the True God, but false gods and heresy instead. In this way, evil will spring forth from such people, who transform our world into a miniature hell.
The otherworldly peace that Christ has brought to men is obtained by a virtuous and holy life in the Church of God – which is the Body of Christ. A life in communion with all the Saints, led by the Holy Mother of God. Without the True Faith and the True Gospel, life in the Orthodox Church, it is impossible to obtain the Peace of Christ. It is impossible to please God, to become a real man, a new man, a man without sin, a man united with God and filled with God. And such was precisely the God-man Jesus Christ, in whom „all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily“ (Col.2:9). Hence Christmas is a Feast that sets God’s Plan before every human being, providing them with the model of what they should be, „that all may be made perfect in man, as the stature of Christ is increased “ ( Eph.4:11-13). The Lord Christ came to earth to make all people godly by grace, just as he is God-man by nature.
Let us build, dear spiritual children, this otherworldly peace of mind daily. May we worship God daily. May our life be a continual service to God, may it be a continuous worship. We have examples of spiritual rich people in our nation, our Holy Fathers and Sons of Peace: Sava, Simeon, Lazar of Kosovo, Vasily of Ostrog, Peter of Cetinje, Nikolai of Zica, Justin of Celije, Hariton of Kosovo. Let us therefore look to them.
Let us be spiritually aflame, for “We serve the Lord” (Rom.12:11). Let us be zealous in the fight for the purity of faith and against the passions. Heresies and passions are murderers of human souls, enemies of the Blessed Christ, just like Herod, the Jewish Scribes and the Pharisees were. Today, the passions are particularly expressed in people by the unreasonable use of mobile phones, the Internet and television. They are formidable arousers of the passions in our times. Let us not allow our dear children to become enslaved by these technologies. By prayer and calm we can also avoid these most recent snares of the demons. Always keep in mind, that manipulation follows almost all news media like a shadow. Let us exercise reason, measure and sobriety in remembrance of the words of the Holy Apostle Paul addressed to the Corinthians: “All things are allowed to me, but not all are beneficial. All things are permitted to me, but I will not allow anything to master me” (1 Cor. 6:12).
Sadly, prayer, obedience, love and peace – the gifts that the Blessed Virgin has bestowed upon us – have been stolen today, from mankind. They have been stolen mostly by the above-named ‘digital thieves’ and they have been ‘enhanced’ by the passions. Prayer alone is the only channel through which God infuses into the soul, every virtue and spiritual sword, by which we cut down sinful passions and desires. The Internet may have brought to us inexhaustible sources of useful information and rapid communication. But it has also brought us new sins and sinful habits that while arising in the virtual world, are actually very real and therefore fatal to our soul and body. Hospitals, mental institutions and prisons are full of such victims. There are many digital addicts, even among children. Many people, both young and old, fall into these „digital traps“. That is why we wish to expose them in this Epistle, and we offer our paternal prayers, that you do not serve technology and the passions, but the God-man Christ. “Let us become like Christ because Christ also became like us. Let us become gods because of Him Who became human for us. He has taken upon Himself that which is worse – namely human nature, in order to give us that which is better – namely Divinity. He became impoverished, that we may be enriched by His poverty. He took the form of a servant, that we might gain liberty. He descended unto us, so that we might ascend unto Him. He was tempted so we could defeat the Tempter. He became devoid of honour, so as to glorify us. He died in order to save us. He ascended to Heaven to draw unto Himself, all those who were laid low by sin. May every one of us give everything of ours. May each one of us bear fruit for Him Who gave Himself for our Redemption, by exchanging His Life for ours. May we give nothing other than ourselves, when we understand the mystery of Christ and when we become for Christ’s sake, all that Christ has become for us ”( Saint Gregory the Theologian).
Today and for always, let us never forget our suffering brethren in crucified Kosovo and Metohija, who today make up in the suffering of their bodies, what the Church is still lacking by not suffering like Christ (Col. 1:24). Let us pray that the Holy Blessed Christ has numbered them to survive and remain on this Serbian Promised Land, that they may bear their cross gracefully until the end. We encourage them with the Lord’s words – „Fear not, little flock!“ (Lk 12:32) – and with the word of the Apostles: „For all that is born of God conquers the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith ” (1 Jn. 5: 4). Kosovo and Metohija is our spiritual and national cradle. While there are Serbs, so there will always be Kosovo! Kosovo is the soul of the Serbs! That is why Kosovo and Metohija will be and remain our country, because they are our Golgotha and our Jerusalem.
Let us pray to Our Blessed Christ for the entire Serbian Cross-Bearing People, that He girds them with heavenly power, comforts them with heavenly comfort and gives life to heavenly love that they may glorify and unite together to multiply, to have mercy and to bless. Let the hearts of the Serbs always be like the cave of Bethlehem, in which Christ is forever reborn with faith, hope, love, fasting, prayer and every Gospel virtue. Amen. May God let it be so.
CHRIST THE PEACE OF GOD IS BORN!
TRULY HE IS BORN!
Happy and Blessed New Year 2020!
Prayerfully Yours Before the Cradle of Our Lady
+ Bishop ARTEMIJE
+ Chorbishop NIKOLAJ
+ Chorbishop MAKSIM
+ Chorbishop NAUM
At Christmas 2019 Old Style