Today, with our hearts full of joy,
we celebrate Christmas!
Christ - the Savior is born!
Hope is born to a desperate mankind !
Before the birth of Christ, humanity was on the edge of disaster. Ruin and decline reigned among the peoples, with the once-chosen Israelites in a state of turmoil, poverty and lawlessness. The voices of the prophets fell silent. One of them was executed by the Jews; another was imprisoned; the third was stoned to death. The first martyr St. Stephen reminded them of this, while delivering his speech before the Sanhedrin: “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it" (Acts 7: 52–53). Those people, who had previously boasted of their faith in the true God were at that moment in a hopeless state. All of them were "The people who sat in darkness … who sat in the region and shadow of death." (Matthew 4:16).
The moral foundation of pagan people was even lower, and it seemed as if the world was tumbling into the abyss. St. Paul the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans wrote of this, condemning their immorality where the truth was exchanged for lies, and wickedness, covetousness and maliciousness abounded (see Romans 1:21-32). Only some had hopes in their hearts, and that hope was preserved in various traditions under the name “Expectation of the Nations” (Genesis 49:10). These people hoped for and awaited the Messiah-the Anointed of God and the Savior, whose coming was foretold by the Prophets.
One night, an unusually bright divine light shined on the hills of Bethlehem, where shepherds were keeping watch over their flock of sheep. The Angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds, and “said to them: I bring you …a great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you ... a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 8-11). From that moment, on this sacred “Holy Night,” the whole of human history changed. The history of the world before or since has been divided into two periods: before and after the birth of Christ. Our Christian history begins with this “Saving Year,” as it is called in Greece---the year Jesus Christ was born.
As the Lord Himself revealed, God the Father lovingly sent His Only Begotten Son into the world “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ... that the world through Him might be saved”(John 3: 16-17). Since then, all people everywhere have the Hope that every person will be saved, if he or she really desires it. It is enough to want to draw near to the Savior, to be with Christ. To believe in Christ!
Hope is given to everyone who wants to:
- be free of original sin, which has affected all generations of people;
- return to Paradise again, from which humanity was expelled for disobedience to God;
- taste the fruit of the “tree of life," and enjoy eternal life in heaven;
- be released from sin and restore the pure beauty of their human image in the image and likeness of God;
- cast off the shackles of the devil, which humanity put on when they disobeyed God’s will and obeyed Satan;
- be free of the consequences of the Law, that had been given to Israel for their hardheartedness;
- have their name written in heaven, among those who enter the Kingdom of God to enjoy paradise forever;
- know the meaning of their own lives and what will happen in the future.
At that very moment, when the words of the Angel of Light were heard: “I bring you …a great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you ... a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 10-11); the night of despair was over, and the day of hope had arrived!
The day of Christmas gives all faithful Christians the true hope for the Savior, that is “an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). A believer does not despair, when everything around them looks dark, joyless and hopeless. This is because there is hope for the help of the Almighty Lord. Any difficulty or danger that threatens them only strengthens their hope in Jesus Christ - the Lord that can miraculously save. The darkness and despair is scattered by the light of hope. Hope in Christ is the force of life at all times and in any circumstance. It protects us from moral decay, from sinful thoughts and deeds, and it rescues us from spiritual destruction.
When hope is “living” (1 Peter 1:3) within us, it becomes a source of patience and resilience. Someone who hopes and trusts in the Lord does not give in to any difficulties. Such a person endures all tests, and is not afraid of temptations. They are determined to maintain a strong devotion to Christ.
By experience, we know that hope in God never lets us fall and never leaves us without help or support. Hope in Our Lord brings joy into our souls — the true and eternal Joy!
I wish you all, my dear brothers and sisters, that the Hope and Joy of the Birth of Jesus Christ fills your hearts during these holy days, and all the days of your lives!
MERRY CHRISTMAS !
With paternal love
Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia