of Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America
By God’s mercy we have again acquired the opportunity to renew our glorification of the King of Glory for His great condescension toward us sinners. The King of the Archangels and Angels, the Creator of heaven and earth descends from the heavens and becomes the Son of Man. The uncontainable God becomes contained in the womb of the Virgin. The Word of God takes on the image of a servant, becomes incarnate for the sake of our salvation. The King of Glory comes down from the heavens in order to raise us up to heaven!
On this blessed night the heavens united with the earth for the first time. The heavens opened up and man for the first time heard the wondrous announcement from the Heavenly Angels: “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Lk.2:10,11). And here, for the first time, man heard the Angelic singing “Glory to God in the highest, good will toward men”!
To our great sorrow, we observe that on the earth there is no peace, but one should not be surprised by this: this was foretold and “this is meant to be”. But it is particularly sad that among Orthodox church people we see less and less frequently “good will in men”!
The primordial enemy of our salvation conquered for himself the Church Abroad not only with assaults from “without”, but from within he strives with great effort to overcome each soul, to destroy everyone, down to the last person! His goal is to sew doubt in the holiness of the Church and indifference toward Christ’s Truth, to distance the soul from the grace of the Holy Spirit Who guides man toward every Truth. The Light of Christ is extinguished in such a person and his soul becomes darkened and instead of peace, there appear indignation, wrath and even malice toward yesterday’s friends.
Frequently and often in the history of the Christian Church the faithful were subjected to persecution, enticement and assaults from heretics and apostates. They managed to draw away many of “these little ones” to follow them, often even members of their own families would cross over to the side of the heretics. But nevertheless, the faithful did not become wrathful and did not chide them, but prayed for these betrayers, keeping in remembrance that “God wishes for all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”.
May the Lord grant a prosperous and peaceful life and love not so much for our own but also for those who hate and offend us. Whoever prays for his enemies and wishes them well, in him the grace-filled peace of God comes to dwell, a love which is not hypocritical, but replete with “good will toward men”.
I greet all the faithful Friends and Flock on the feast of the Nativity of Christ!
December 25, 2014/January 7, 2015