"Behold, I bring to you good tidings of
great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day … a
Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2.10 - 11).

My beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

This joyous message was heard from heaven to earth during the holy Christmas night. And this same message has a timeless power and value. It gives great joy "to all people" of every era, now and always even unto the end of time.

The Gospel narrative notes that the shepherds of Bethlehem rushed to the Cave to worship the Savior of the world, "Who lay in the manger". We, today’s Christians, who are far off for more than two thousand years since this historic event, we hasten to attend the perceptible Bethlehem; to worship Him as the Savior of the world, the incarnate Word, the victorious conqueror of death and the provider of life that has no end. During the Holy Eucharist, which is the par excellence Mystery of the Church and which was established by Chirst Himself, so that we would be able celebrate it "in His remembrance", something miraculous occurs. Something that the human mind would be impossible to conceive, if Christ Himself would not have assured us about it: each of us, in a way that does not fit human logic, not only can we approach Christ, but also we can be united with Him through the power of the Holy spirit: "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him" (Jn. 6:56).

The shepherds of Bethlehem who hastened to the Cave they had a unique blessing: they saw the Infant, they venerated Him, they admired what they saw, they felt great joy and then they left. So did the Magi: they were led to Jesus, they worshiped Him, they offered Him their precious gifts and then departed for their home.

We, however, through Baptism we have become united with Christ, and we have become members of His Body: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ you have put on Christ” (Gal.3:27). Thus, our heart becomes a Manger in which Christ dwells. And every time we are deemed worthy to receive His Holy Body and Holy Blood, "for the forgiveness of sins and life eternal", the gifts of the Holy Spirit bear fruits and our relationship with Christ is strengthened, as He is the source of true joy. And this is felt even more so on Christmas Day, on which we celebrate the Birth of the Savior as a current event.

The Church for 40 days before Christmas, through fasting, relevant hymns and the biblical readings prepares us for Christmas by cleansing our heart from hatred, injustice, jealousy, self-absorption and to become a warm Manger; a welcoming Manger that will provide love and understanding to the suffering brothers of Christ, with whom He identifies Himself.

In today's glorious Christmas Divine Liturgy, after the consecration of the Holy Gifts, if we respond to the call "with the fear of God, faith and love, approach," our Lord will come to dwell in our existence, so that we may celebrate true Christmas, to celebrate His birth in US! Thus, from our personal spiritual experience we will now be able to sing with the hymnographer:

- "OurSavior has visited us from on high" (Christmas Exaposteilarion)
- "As for me, I am returning to the bliss of Paradise" (Christmas Great Vespers).

In this way, we too, along with the multitude of untiring Angelic voices we may cry out:”Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will towards men” (Christmas Matins).

If our souls remain united with Christ, nothing can prevent us from feeling joyous: neither sorrows and worries, nor economic hardships and dangers. We will be able to proclaim with St. Paul: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4.13), and repeating the verse of the Psalm: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” (Ps. 23:4).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
MAY YOU ALL HAVE A HAPPY, PEACEFUL
AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

With paternal love in the Incarnate Christ,

+ Metropolitan of Pisidia Sotirios

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