Beloved children in Christ,
Today our Holy Church celebrates the Nativity in the flesh of the pre-eternal Son and Word of God. This is one of the greatest feasts of our Christian faith, which we celebrate with spiritual freedom and joy, independently from the tragic external circumstances.
Unfortunately, this year, the message of the good news about Christmas echoes alongside the din of war and the clash of weapons in your fatherland, which is experiencing the horrible consequences of a provocative and unjust invasion. This war, provoked by the aggression of the Russian Federation last February, constitutes the worst European geopolitical and humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War, with a negative impact on the environment and society worldwide.
For us Christians, all wars are the murder of our brothers. Our Savior blesses the “peacemakers,” for “they shall be called children of God” (Mat. 5:9); He promotes the notion of righteousness and love, even toward our enemies. As recipients and supreme beneficiaries of all things from God, we are obliged more than anyone else to strive for peace. In this sense, all that is enacted by Christians contrary to this principle does not primarily affect Christianity but rather those who live contrary to the divine commandments.
Any distortion of the Gospel message for political purposes, trying to find a theological reason for war and violence, thus trying to justify the unjustifiable, turns out to be not only a caricature of the Gospel, but also and above all a blasphemy against the God of mercy and the Prince of Peace. The credibility of religions today depends on their attitude towards protecting human freedom and dignity and their contribution to peace.
Now, as we celebrate the Nativity of Christ, the coming into this world of the Son of God to reconcile all creation with its Creator, let us wholeheartedly strive to be artisans of peace by caring about justice, solidarity, and the protection of creation. Let us never forget that our Savior enjoins us in the Gospel to love one another as He has loved us, specifying that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35).
The Holy Great Church of Christ – who brought the Christian faith and Byzantine civilization to your fatherland, Kyivan Rus, at the end of the 10th century – continues to admire the courage, bravery, and valor of the Ukrainian people, who demonstrate to the whole world true devotion and unlimited love to their country. At the same time, the Mother Church is especially thinking of you all who are celebrating the Nativity of Christ in this cold season, particularly this year in Ukraine, without electricity, without heating, and is unceasingly praying for the immediate restoration of peace and justice, for the revival of Ukraine.
Beloved children in Christ,
Christ is born; glorify Him! Christ is descending from the heavens; come and meet Him! Christ is on earth; rise up to greet Him! Despite the circumstances, let us celebrate the Nativity of the world’s Savior with spiritual joy. We pray that all of you may enjoy a prayerful Holy Twelve Days of Christmas, like a genuine fullness of time and radiance of the light of eternity. May the coming 2023 prove – by the goodness and grace of the Divine Word that became flesh for us and our salvation – to be a period of peace, love, and solidarity, indeed a year in the righteousness of our Lord!
We believe that only solidarity with the Ukrainian people can overcome evil and darkness. We hope, when time permits, to revisit your unsubdued homeland, finding, then, all the Orthodox Christians in Ukraine united in one flourishing Church! We wish you all many blessed years!