In his Christmas message to the bishops, priests, monks and faithful of the Orthodox Church, Kirill mentions the contradictions of man before the birth of Christ who was born in a cave, in extreme poverty. Yet there is a worse place: the desert scorched by the sin of man who has moved away from God, presently neither hot nor cold, empty and enslaved by passions.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundyayev) issued in a message for Orthodox Christmas on 7 January, 2020, addressed to the bishops, priests, monks and all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church. In it, he calls for conversion in the face of the discord that is dividing the Church, and the enmities that ruin human relationships. What follows are some excerpts from the message.
“Beloved in the Lord,”
“Inconceivable is the Lord’s humility: in being the omnipotent Master, he appears to people as a helpless infant; in being God, he assumes corruptible flesh and endures the afflictions of earthly life; in being the Immortal One, he goes voluntarily to his tortuous and shameful death. And he does all of this not for the select few – the prophets, righteous and his faithful servants. Christ comes for each one of us, he desires salvation for all without exception – the sinners and the evildoers, the indifferent and the neglectful, the cowardly and the angry, even his murderers!
“The Lord turns nobody away, never disdains anyone; on the contrary, he assumes our human flesh, renews it through his divine incarnation, his sufferings on the cross and his life-bearing resurrection; he raises it up into the bosom of the Holy Trinity and sanctifies it by his presence rightward the throne of God. And it is of the life-creating body of Christ, his most pure blood shed for each one of us that we partake in the sacrament of the Eucharist – and we become one with the same body and the same blood of not only with the Saviour but also with each other.
“However, today we unfortunately see the waves of discord rocking the ship of the Church, the storm of arguments and contradictions undermining the unity of the Orthodox faithful, people, overpowered by the darkness of the enemy and tempter, discarding the Fount of living water in favour of the “the murky fount of ungodly heresies that is unfit to drink from” (Canon to the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council). At this difficult time, we must all recall that the Lord was born, crucified and rose from the dead for each one of us, that he founded on earth the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In belonging to the Church, we are called upon to overcome discord, confrontation and conflict, to heal divisions, to help those who endure the horrors of war and suffer from oppression and injustice.
“The Lord was born not in a royal palace but in a lowly cave in ‘abject poverty’. What, it would seem, could be worse than a cavern and poorer than a manger for cattle? Yet such a place does exist – it is the desert of the human heart scorched by sin, alienated from God, neither cold nor hot, wasted and enslaved by the passions. It is, however, within our power to make our soul a dwelling-place for God, to remember that the Lord is near, at the very gates, and that he humbly waits for us to finally see him with the eyes of faith, admit him into our lives, hear his words and respond to his love and allow him to act within us.”
Let us reflect for a moment: “it is only the embittered heart of Herod, full of envy, that does not wish to accept the divine truth, does not rejoice, yet trembles not from the fear of God but from cowardice. Let us ponder whether we too are not like him in our deeds, whether we do not make our priority our own well-being and comfort, whether we are not afraid that someone may be better than us, more talented, kinder, whether we do not do evil to such a person in trying to hurt or humiliate him before others, cast him down from his pedestal so that we may raise ourselves up a step higher. Is it not the case that the source of truth for us is not the Lord and his sacred commandments, but our very own selves? Do we not tempt others in passing off as truth our own self-serving fantasies, do we not rend asunder Christ’s robe through our ambitious actions, do we not sow the seeds of discord and discontent among our brothers and sisters in the faith?”
“Let us also remember on this solemn day those who are close to us: let us visit our parents and friends, devote our attention to them, find kind words, and thank them for all they do for us. May our hearts, filled with love of God and neighbour, become the abode for the All-Merciful Christ, who is ‘Pre-eternal and Inconceivable, and Co-eternal with the invisible Father’. Amen."