Bishop Irinej: Nativity Encyclical 2009
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX
BISHOP OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Our dear spiritual children:
GOD'S PEACE - CHRIST IS BORN!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among persons
who are according to his will! (Lk 2:14)
Beloved clergy and monastics, sons and daughters, Our cherished children,
With humbled heart let us bow before the limitless grandeur of the magnitude of the Word of God, let us receive the all-embracing breadth of God the Logos, who did not shy away from us and our sinful human nature rather fully incarnate Himself in it for our salvation. Christ, the only true Light of this world, with the glowing warmth of the Sun of His embodied love, has embraced us in His common unity.
He, God who was born of a Father without a mother before all ages, today has, for us and for our salvation, graciously deigned to be born of a Mother without a father in time. He, who is enthroned on the Cherubic Throne, today is laid in a simple manger. The heavenly powers express their wonder and all of creation is amazed, and the earth offers up its heart in the form of a cave to receive the New-born Prince of Peace.
Today we are again witnesses of that same salvific birth of the Divine Infant, and as the shepherds day and night we must guard and prepare our hearts in place of a manager so that He can be born anew in them. As the Wise Men we shall bring forth unto Him the gold, incense and myrrh of our faith, ourselves and each other, desiring to live with Christ in the endless ages of the Kingdom which is to come. Truly, God is with us and is our only and eternal joy! He who so loved humanity that he granted Himself unto us, manifesting the love of God the Father through the Holy Spirit, by His Sacrifice and Resurrection, granting us life eternal!
That same message which must also become life in us was explicitly clear and understandable as to those Wise Men from the East who followed the Star of Bethlehem to the New-born Divine Child, so also to those simple shepherds who were brought to the Incarnate Saviour. Hearing that joyous heralding of the angels: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among persons who are according to his will! (Lk 2:14) they obtained peace. And that peace is, according to St. Nectarios of Aegina, the divine gift which is bestowed upon those who make their peace with God and follow His commandments.
Our most gracious Lord who is concerned for salvation will never leave us without that peace and as never before has granted to our Serbian people a Guardian Angel in the person of Patriarch Pavle of Blessed Repose. Fulfilling His commandments our Patriarch has through our reconciliation, bestowed upon us Incarnate Peace, elevating our impoverished and weakened community into the perfected community of His Love.
Let us be persons, he constantly spoke, and even today our Patriarch does not cease to speak! Let us be persons, let us be children of God, let us be the executors of His commandments and the Mystery of our redemption and the salvation of the world!
In so doing, therefore, we must experience the joy of those Wise Men from the East and sense the peace of those bewildered shepherds who worshipped Him as He lay in a manager. However, it is always necessary to watchfully shield your hearts from lies, for joy and peace could not light upon the heart of Herod who by deceit attempted to destroy that Holy Child. No one, therefore, could ever and cannot bind division and evil intentions with internal peace. Remember, that divine gift is bestowed only upon those who make their peace with God and follow His commandments.
All of us are therefore invited by our Church to, not as Herod, but rather as those Wise Men and shepherds encounter Christ who comes to us from the heavens. For according to the teaching of our Holy Patriarch Pavle: the Church is not a political organisation. She does not possess weapons nor the might with which to force, but rather to preach and to offer the word of Truth, to point out that which is sinful, the damage wrought by individuals and in general, the misfortunes of this and that intransient world. Invites us to repentance and fasting, to pray to God and to love toward all so that He who is the God of peace and our Peace (Rom 15:33) grant us His Peace, and we as co-workers of God to do all that we can in creating peace and as peace-makers to be called truly His sons and daughters.
Following our great Patriarch, We also appeal to all of you today, Our dear spiritual children, people of good will: safeguard yourselves and your children, preserve and enrich your faith and your identity and always and at all times to be persons unto the joy of your one and only Holy Church and your people.
May the Divine Child bestow even upon us the Nativity light as the Sun of Righteousness and knowledge of Truth; to enlighten our minds and warm our hearts so that heaven and earth shall rejoice and in unity herald: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among persons who are according to his will! (Lk 2:14).
With prayerful regards that the Lord will grant all of us a blessed New Year of the Lord, a new epoch of common peace in Christ, We invoke upon all of you His blessings and love, 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!
Given in Sydney at Christmas in the Year 2009.
Your earnest intercessor before the Divine Infant Christ,
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
Administrator of the Diocese for Australia and New Zealand
New Gracanica Metropolitanate