Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord – December 2006

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Beloved bishops, clergy, monastics and laity:

The Christmas season is one that helps us overcome our natural distrust or lack of hope that is so prevalent in our times. It is the season that reaffirms the message that “God is with us!” So many of the problems of today have to do with the feeling that God is not with us, and in fact that no one is with us. What started out as a millennium of peace and concord has become a time of war, violence, terrorism and dissension among peoples of the world in the areas of religion, ethnicity and politics. Perhaps we look for God in the wrong places?

Pope Benedict in a recent message said: “God ‘comes’: he comes to be among us, in each of our situations; he comes to live in our midst, to live with us and in us; he comes to overwhelm the distances that divide us and separate us; he comes to reconcile ourselves with him and with each other. He comes in the history of humanity, to knock on the door of each man and woman of good will, to bring to individuals, to families and to peoples the gift of community, of concord and of peace.”

A knock on the door presupposes that there is someone to answer it. It presupposes that there is someone who wants to answer it. It presupposes that there is someone who is able to answer it. Do we even hear the knock? Do the noises of our lives mute the sound of the knock? Do we hide behind the doors of our lives and hesitate to open them wide when God knocks? Each of us can answer these questions and indeed do something about them.

Once we open the door of our lives to God, a great mystery is revealed. That mystery is Jesus Christ and the salvation he brought to us. St. Jerome reminds us that “Christ saved men not with thunder and lightning, but as a small baby born in a manger … ” St. Athanasius tells us that “the Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, gave it graciously to the human race.” Indeed, the birth of Jesus Christ is a mystery of love. Once we open the door of our lives to Christ, we find as Lactantius tells us that, “Christ is the door of the greatest temple. He is the way of light. He is the guide to salvation. He is the gate of life.”

Will we welcome God in the person of Jesus Christ as the Theotokos did when God knocked at the door of her young life? She welcomed him with faith and love.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, may each of us and our families be filled with the light, salvation and life that only He can give to us.

On the Nativity of the Lord, may God find in each of us, a good and open heart. Let us open wide the doors of our hearts in order to receive the gifts that God so overwhelmingly bestows on us. Truly, God is with us! The only question is: Are we with God?

Bestowing my blessing upon all the bishops, clergy, monastics and laity of the Metropolia, I remain

In the name of the Lord!

Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh