Beloved brethren in Christ and children in the incarnate Lord,
Let us give thanks in humility and prayer to our man-befriending and merciful Lord and God for revealing to us once again today, on this great Feast of the Lord, "the immeasurable riches of His grace," with the goodness which He manifested towards us "in Christ Jesus."(1)
"Today is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of the Mystery from eternity; the Son of God becomes son of the Virgin"(2) and bestows on man the capability of participating even now in the life of the Divinity and thus of becoming "a partaker of divine nature."(3)
Today is fulfilled the "Promise"(4) concerning the Anointed Messiah, Christ; and the Saviour and our incarnate Lord imparts His supernatural Life on our nature. He Himself becomes "our life."(5)
Today the God-Man, the "last Adam," becomes "a life-giving spirit"(6) and proclaims in lofty preaching: "I am the Life;"(7) I am the "living Water,";(8) "whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him..., [it] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."(9)
What a truly supreme blessing, and at the same time, what a great Mystery!
Children in the Lord,
Has the Life of Christ truly become our Life? Is our life really Christ? Can we ourselves proclaim those moving words of St. Ignatius the God-bearer: "My love is crucified and there is no material-loving fire within me; the living water speaks within me, saying 'Come to the Father'.... I desire the Divine bread, the heavenly bread, the bread of life which is the flesh of Jesus Christ the Son of God..., and I desire the divine drink, His blood, which is incorruptible love and never-ending life."(10)
Unfortunately, with deep sorrow we observe that our faithful usually have the mistaken impression that Christian life is confined to a sterile ethical system, to a pharasaical worship of form, and to a scholastic observance of duties, in a shell borrowed from the Gospel....
In other words, they have not taken to heart or, even more sadly, they do not have the dispostion to comprehend and put into their lives, intensively and consistently, the great and saving truth that a Christian person is Christian solely and specifically because his entire existence consists of the Living and Life-bestowing and Life-giving Christ.
The true Christian lives in Christ and Christ lives in him, and consequently he is able, with a heart aflame with divine love, to affirm, humbly and gratefully, together with the God-bearing Apostle Paul: "It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me!"(11)
A dead Christian is not only a person who is enslaved to sin, but also that person who does not experientially and dynamically partake of the life of Christ through our Church's life in Hesychasm and in the Mysteries. For it is specifically here that the "branch" that does not remain on the "Vine" is not nourished by Its life-bearing fluids and for this reason withers.(12)
In order for His Life to become our life, His Body must become our body and His Blood our blood. Then our new life with Christ will be "hidden" by the Holy Spirit in the bosom of God and our existence will be deeply rooted in the existence of the Holy Trinity. Then we will truly be Christians and can confess that "our life is hidden with Christ in God."(13)
Beloved brethren in Christ,
All of us are witnesses of great restlessness in our days. People are prepared to enter the gates of the third millennium after Christ truly "alienated from the life of God"(14) and "separated from Christ,"(15) striving in essence for the unknown, without the Light, without the Truth, without the Life.(16)
Yet do we, who have been granted the mercy of being Christians, have any sense of our supreme obligation towards our hapless fellow men? Is our life that continual and profound living of the life of our Saviour, which gives us the boldness to say to our fellow man in humility and love: "Brethren, you are strugglinng in vain, because you are seeking for life apart from Christ, for 'life without Christ is death'"?(17)
Let this, then, be our God-pleasing concern. Let this be the living and radiant and constant witness to contemporary man of us Orthodox Christians: Our Christ is the Son of God and "he who has the Son has Life."(18) Our Christ is the "living Water";(19) let all who thirst come and "take [from Him] the Water of Life freely."(20)
Our Christ is the "Bread of the Life"(21) "which came down from Heaven,"(22) and he that eats His Flesh and drinks His Blood remains in Christ and Christ in him; and thus "he has Life eternal"(23) and "shall have Life everlasting."(24) Unto Him, our Saviour, be glory and thanksgiving with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages. Amen.
Holy Nativity of Our Saviour Jesus Christ 1999
Your intercessor before the incarnate Lord.
+ Bishop Cyprian of Oropos and Fili,
President of the Holy Synod in Resistance
To be read in Church after the Holy Gospel at the Nativity Vespers Liturgy of St. Basil on Thursday morning (Dec. 25, Old Style/Jan. 6, New Style) or at the Vigil and Liturgy (Agryonia) on Thursday night (or at the Liturgy on Friday morning, Jan. 7, if a Vigil and Liturgy are not held on Thursday night).
1) Eph. 2:7.
2) Dismissal Hymn of the Annunciation.
3) II Pet. 1:4.
4) See Acts 13:32, Eph. 2:12 et al.
5) Col. 3:4.
6) I Cor. 15:45;
7) John 11:25; 14:6.
8) See St. John 4:10.
9) John 4:14.
10) St. Ignatius the God-bearer, "To the Romans," VII.
11) Gal. 2:20.
12) See St. John 15:1-6.
13) Col. 3:3.
14) Eph. 4:18.
15) Eph. 2:12.
16) See St. John 8: 12; 11:25; 14:6.
17) St. Ignatius the God-bearer, "To the Romans," VI.
18) I St. John 5:12.
19) See St. John 4:12.
20) Rev. 22:17.
21) St. John 6:35, 48, 51.
22) St. John 6:33, 41, 50, 51, 58.
23) St. John 6:54.
24) St. John 6:51 & 58.
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