Metropolitan of Rhodes,
President of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care

Being the God of Peace, Father of Compassion,
You sent us Your Angel of Great Counsel, granting us peace.
Wherefore, rising from darkness, being led to the light of divine knowledge,
we glorify You, O loving One.[1]

Today Christ is born in Bethlehem from a Virgin”. God the Word, the Word of God the Father, is incarnated. With the eternal will of the Father, He comes into the world as “an Angel of Great Counsel”. He comes as a messenger so that we can come to know the love of God, who wants all Mankind to be saved from every tyrannical enemy that brings on death; to make all human beings, by way of grace, gods – sons and daughters of God.[2] With His incarnation, with Him revealing Himself as God-Man, He brings peace, thus reconciling earth with heaven. He tears down all the barriers that separate all of us and everything from Him so that we can live calmly and peacefully, with pity and dignity in every way.[3] Because of this, let us glorify Him, and let us raise our hearts high toward Him, let us sing hymns to Him, and let us come to meet Him.

And while the angels are unceasingly announcing the “Great Mystery” of the Divine Incarnation, as they sing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward all men”, and while the Magi offer their gifts to the Divine Infant, saying, “God is with us, it seems that Mankind has difficulty hearing the gladsome news of its salvation. In fact, it is as if it wants to deny it. For today’s human race is surrounded by wars and disruption, atrocious crimes, murders and multiple types of maltreatment, inter-family conflict, social upheavals and strife. People are being killed and societies are dissolving. Thus, amid the brightness of the Feast, cries are being heard, “lamentation, weeping and great mourning”.[4] Like Rachel, how many people and in how many places in the world today are mourning the loss of their children? And how much bitterness and hatred has accumulated in many souls, only to be expressed tomorrow in a destructive way that will harm human beings and their dignity?

Why such difficulty and hardship? Why is there so much denial in accepting that gift of life and salvation that is in the Manger? Because of our greediness and our illogical pretentiousness and our over-rated aspirations; particularly due to the misuse of the freedom that God has granted us.  Even though Christ is born to lift us to heaven so that we may live eternally, we have demoted people as a mere object by exploiting them according to our individual needs and desires.

By doing this, we say “no” to peace, and, if we say “no” to peace and reconciliation, we say “no” to life. Every time we deny the possibility of reconciliation, we prolong hatred and destruction. The tragedy of today’s world exists because people cannot see life as peace and harmony; the peace that the philanthropic Christ gives through the communion of the Holy Spirit; the harmony that exists in His Eternal Kingdom, where all live in the love of the Father. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”[5]

Dear brethren and children in the Lord,

Today, with the incarnation of Christ, heaven and earth have become united. “Today God has come down to the earth and Mankind has risen to the heavens”.[6] “Come o Faithful, let us see where Christ is born”.[7] Together with the Shepherds and the Magi, let us meet Him and to come to know Him. Let us rise from the darkness in which we live and hasten to receive Him as Lord and live with Him in unity.[8] Let us reconcile ourselves with one another and become as one body, so that the peace of God will rule in our hearts. For this is what we have been called to do. For let us be thankful unto the Lord.[9] May this Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you”.[10]

With prayer to the New Born for all of you,

Metropolitan of Rhodes

[1] Translation by His Grace Spyridon (Kezios), Bishop of Amastris,
[2] Μάξιμος ὁ Ὁμολογητής, Κεφάλαια Ζ΄ Περί Θεολογίας καί τῆς Ἐνσάρκου Οἰκονομίας τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, 2,23-24, PG, 14, 514-516.
[3] Eph. 2:14
[4] Matt. 2:18
[5] 1 Cor. 14:33
[6] Idiomelon, Litany, Vespers of the Feast
[7] Kathisma, Orthros of the Feast
[8] Col. 2:6
[9] Col.3:15-17
[10] 2 Thes. 3:16-17