Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord – December 2007

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Venerable bishops, clergy, monastics and laity,

The silence of the first Christmas was broken forever when the Word was made flesh (Jn 1:14). The first-born of all creatures was born and all creation was made new in Christ.

“How shall I tell you of this great mystery? He who is without flesh becomes incarnate; the Word puts on a body; the invisible is seen; He whom no hand can touch is carried; and he who knows no beginning now begins to be. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man: Jesus Christ.” (Aposticha Sticherion-December 26)

Silence continues to surround many of us today and to engulf us in an endless downward spiral without faith, hope and love. We see, feel and experience it all around us. In fact, it can speak so loudly that it mutes the message of the Gospel.

What is the silence that surrounds us today and needs to be broken by the Word of God — Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate?

The isolating silence of selfishness, self-centeredness and narcissism; the dividing silence of frustration, mistakes and loneliness; the deadening silence of the lack of community, of always having to be right and rigid individualism; the diminishing silence of revenge, envy and anger; the doubting silence of unbelief, confusion and relativism; the imprisoning silence of hopelessness, depression and despair: these can only be broken by the Word of God — Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate today.

Negative silence unlike true silence blocks out and destroys our ability to be open and receptive to the Word of God. We need to exchange the negative silence of our lives for the life-giving silence that can only come from God who allows us to listen. We listen! We wait in patience. We become fully alive only when silence breaks into a thousand pieces because the Savior, Jesus Christ has been born for us.

“We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. . . .” (Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI).

“Today the invisible nature is united with our visible nature through the Virgin. Today the infinite Essence is wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem. Today God is guiding the Magi by a star so that they might worship him. With the gold, frankincense and myrrh, he is foretelling his three-day burial. Let us cry out to him: Having become incarnate from the Virgin, save our souls, O Christ God” (Praises – December 26).

Let the silence be broken with the joyful greeting to one other: Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Christos Razdajetsja! Slavite Jeho!

I extend to each of you my blessing, and wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas and a holy New Year. I remain

In the name of the Lord!

Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh