"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call
His name Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins. " (Matthew 1:21)
Christ Is Born! Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
The name Christ, proclaimed by the Angel for the newborn, reveals to us the
entire mystery of Christ-the complete plan for His life and work. It denotes
a true Savior, for He is the one who saves people from sin. He is the Savior
of all and for all, without exception. He came as the God of love who didn't
differentiate between men, for all men are His creation. All unto Him are His
own; all who are made in His image are His, "for in Him we live and move
and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Therefore, all of mankind, from the beginning
of time and from all continents, make up "His people"; just as God's
Angel announced to the just Joseph, "for He will save the people from their
Christ was born for all people. The joy of Christmas, therefore, is not the
joy of a select few, but the joy of all God's people. Therefore, let us all
rejoice. However, we ask, how will the homeless, hungry, and naked people from
the suffering region of martyred Serbian Kosovo and Metohija rejoice? Or the
victims of the latest tragedy in Central America? How will they rejoice, who
feel that the happiness of this life has left them?
These questions cannot be answered by those who are suffering but rather by
us. We can respond with Christian love, through charity, and with the Christmas
message of peace. Through these gestures we mold our own fate. It's up to us
whether we choose the fate of Lazarus' wealthy neighbor or that of the faithful
servant for whom the following words were intended, "Well done, good and
faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you
ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord." (Matthew 25:23)
Let's examine ourselves and think about those in need during this great Christmas
holiday. In Christmas, we have been given the greatest gift of all- the birth
of Christ. Thus, we must reciprocate by offering our gifts to those who are
suffering and in need, as well as to our Diocese as to our own mother.
I ask, dear brothers and sisters, that you understand the coming of Christ
into the world as the liberation of man from all which distances him from God.
Therefore, "relinquish all for Christ, but never Christ."
As living souls, all obeying the same Creator, let's be merciful to one another
and forgive one another. You are all the children of one Father and travelers
down the same path. Keep the Orthodox faith; participate regularly in confession
and communion; live in peace and love; do not judge one another or gossip about
one another; come with your children to church, educate yourselves and your
children in the Orthodox Christian Tradition; that you be baptized and married
in the church, and by so doing become the children of the light, for unto us
was born the one who said, "I am the light of the world. "
On this holy day, embrace one another in peace and love, forgive one another,
and greet one another with the angelic greeting,
God's Peace, Christ is Born!
Your humble intercessor in Christ,
Bishop of Western America