ENGLISH VERSION: Nativity Message of the GOC Synod under Archbishop KALLINIKOS to the entire Church
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Beloved children of the True Church of Christ,
The incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ was the determinant point in the history of man. As evidenced by the eye-witnesses, the shepherds, the holy angels sent up praise during the time of Christ’s birth, chanting: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” But many wonder, why doesn’t peace prevail upon the earth since then, according to the angelic hymn, and why do wars and other evils continue to afflict mankind? This is because the peace of which the Angels speak, is the “peace from above,” the peace that God gives to those who have been reconciled to Him through repentance and their incorporation into the Church of Christ. Those who have been reconciled to God have a quiet conscience and peace in their souls, and they can confront any misfortune and human suffering, rejoicing and praising God.
In this way the Holy Martyrs, tortured by tyrants, glorified God. Similarly, the Righteous also bore the cross of asceticism, as well as all the Saints who endured every human misfortune giving thanks to God. Many people wonder why God allows Christians, and even Saints to suffer. They think that fulfilling some typical Christian duties is a means whereby they may avoid unpleasant situations. But when they are troubled by illness, accidents, the death of loved ones, or other similar things they say: "God, why did you do this to me?” They are unaware that the sorrows of this life are teaching methods through which our salvation is worked out, according to the words: “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14: 22). It is sufficient that we confront woes with patience and thanksgiving to God. In this regard, the Apostle Paul says: “We glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5 3-5).
Beloved children in the Lord,
Our Orthodox Fatherland is going through an economic crisis which is testing many people around us. Let this crisis become the occasion for repentance and return to God. Let us pray for our weak brethren, because the past two years have been an unsettling phenomenon.
Firstly, suicides are rampant. Greece was formerly a country with a minimal suicide rate compared to other European countries. During the last two years suicides have rapidly increased. This means that those of our brethren who have reached the point of hopelessness, have increased significantly. This reveals a decrease of faith in the providence of God among a greater number of Greeks than has been before. Our materialistic lifestyle and affluence have had negative consequences. Wherefore it is necessary to reinforce the faith and hope of our fellow men through prayer, and by encouraging them, but primarily by a good example.
Another woeful phenomenon is blasphemy. Our disappointed brethren blaspheme God, thinking that through blasphemy they can ease their pain. The wife of Job the much-suffering foolishly advised him to do the same when the Righteous-one tasted the most sever evils which may afflict a person: the deprivation of one’s belongings, grave illnesses, and the death of his ten children! Then his wife, having enumerated all that had happened, urged him to say some word against the Lord, and die. But he looked on her, and said to her, “Why hast thou spoken like one of the foolish women? If we have received good things of the hand of the Lord, shall we not endure evil things? In all these things that happened to him, Job sinned not at all with his lips before God. (Job 2:9-10). And not only did he not blaspheme God, but he glorified Him saying: “I myself came forth naked from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away: as it seemed good to the Lord, so has it come to pass; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21-22). Through patience and thanksgiving to God, Job was delivered from suffering and was deemed worthy of eternal life. St. James the brother of the Lord invokes his example saying: “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11). It is our duty not to endure blasphemy when we hear those around us blaspheming. We must react against blasphemy when we hear it, by praying for the one who is blaspheming, and by admonishing them by pointing out the error of their blasphemy, using discretion as is appropriate to the situation.
But primarily, all we who have been reconciled unto God through the incarnation of His Son and Word, let us give a good example. Let us even rejoice in sorrows, and let us have our hope in God unabated, and steadfast peace in our hearts, because:
“From on high Christ our Saviour hath visited us” and “we who were in the dark and shadow have found the truth, for Christ the Lord is born now of the all-blameless Virgin Maid."
In the year of salvation MMXII the 14th / 27th of December
THE HOLY SYNOD
† KALLINIKOS of Athens
† AKAKIOS of Attica and Diauleia
† MAXIMOS of Thessalonica and Demetrias
† ATHANASIOS of Larisa and Platamon
† JUSTIN of Euripus and Euboea
† PAVLOS of America
† GERONTIOS of Piraeus and Salamina
† CHRYSOSTOMOS of Attica and Boeotia
† MOSES of Toronto
† GREGORY of Christianoupolis
† PHOTIOS of Marathon
† THEODOSIOS of Bresthena
† SERGIOS of Portland
† DEMETRIUS of Boston
† CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupoli