Archpastoral Message of His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
BISHOP OF THE METROPOLITANATE OF
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
GOD’S PEACE — CHRIST IS BORN!
Rejoice, heaven and earth,
as the prophets foretold!
Celebrate in the spirit, angels and people!
God is born of a woman and appears in the flesh...
(Troparion of the Nativity Litiya)
Our much beloved Clergy and Monastics, Sons and Daughters, Our dear Spiritual Children,
Together with Him who has descended to earth so that every person can ascend to heaven, We greet you today, on the occasion of the Birth of Christ according to the flesh. We greet you with the all-joyous words of this wondrous and God-inspired hymn, letters which throughout the ages invite us to commune with Him, who has united heaven and earth by His birth. Rejoice, invite us these ancient and pleasing words, for Christ our Saviour is born! Exalt with Him, for sorrow has been cast aside by the birth of Life!
According to the homily of Saint Leo the Great, “No one is excluded from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, the Victor over sin and death, finding no person free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the Gentile take courage as he is summoned to life.”
Therefore, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law – so that we might receive adoption as children” (Gal. 4:4-5). Precisely in the fullness of time, according to the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God accepted our human nature in order to reconcile it to its Creator, placing it in the perfect communion of His all-encompassing love.
However, the contemporary world no longer finds its point of origin and the source of its communion in God. A person in today’s world endeavours toward the elevation of self as a single being and an individual, and thus cannot succeed in revealing their self, precisely as person, in the Incarnate Saviour. The Divine Child renews us in Himself, for “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible... all things were created by Him – and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things have their being… and through Him, God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things…” (Col. 1:15-17, 20).
Our contemporaries express a strong sense of “egalitarianism”, or at least the parity of all humanity, in which natural or cultural diversity become obstacles that must be “overcome” or more so, destroyed for the sake of society. In today’s world, more than ever, persons avoid the community of salvation in favour of freedom of the individual so that they might devise a new direction for their personal life and order its direction, regardless of whether or not it leads to life or to death itself. Precisely such a senseless attitude towards life strips a person of their true freedom, enslaving them in the name of unity without diversity, such that personhood is ignored and the sanctity of a Christo-centric community is destroyed.
Sadly, the sanctity of the most intimate human community – marriage, and with it family, is endangered. The sacramental character of marriage and family life is sacrificed before plurality, respectively diversity without unity, and already legally challenged in New Zealand and in like manner seeking an open horizon in Australia. With this our Fifth Continent has become a mirrored image of contemporary global tendencies, all in the name of impoverished freedom. Despite this, the Apostle Paul encourages us by noting “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
For that perfect God-Man, who was born before all ages of a Father and today in time of a Mother, by such, has become our guide, establishing the sanctity of family and the right of every child to live within the community of a family, with its father and its mother. Precisely that Child of Bethlehem united heaven and earth together with us who rejoice today in His birth. Angels are united with humankind, and all harmoniously glorify in spirit God in the Highest, praying for peace among persons who are according to God’s will (Lk. 2:14). For “He has made known to us the mystery of His will – according to His good pleasure – that He set forth in Him, to be put into effect in the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ" (Eph. 1:9-10).
With paternal regard that our Heavenly Father, through the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, bestow upon all a blessed New Year of salvation in which heaven and earth will embrace, and angels with humans rejoice, precisely a New Year of mutual love, peace and unity, We invoke His blessings and love, and greet you on the Great Feast of Christ's Nativity with the most joyous Christmas salutation:
GOD’S PEACE — CHRIST IS BORN!
TRULY, HE IS BORN!
Given in Sydney at Christmas in the Year 2013
Your earnest intercessor before the crib of the Divine Infant Christ,
Bishop of the Metropolitanate Australia and New Zealand
Source: Metropolitanate Australia and New Zealand