In the Divine Liturgy and other Holy Services, we call our Lord Jesus Christ Light or true Light. This can be seen in the hymn of the Divine Liturgy after Holy Communion, “We have seen the true light…”, or in the 2nd Article of the Confession of Faith, “I believe…and in one Lord, Jesus Christ…Light of Light…” These concepts and many more like them have become part of the Divine Liturgy, and they have their origins in Holy Scripture.
Prot. No. 751
X B A R T H O L O M E W
BY GOD’S MERCY ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH
GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE
FROM THE SAVIOR CHRIST BORN IN BETHLEHEM
* * *
Most venerable brothers in Christ and beloved children,
As we journey with the All-Holy Virgin, who comes “to give birth ineffably” to the pre-eternal Word, and as we gaze upon Bethlehem, which prepares itself to receive the holy infant, behold we have once more reached Christmas filled with sentiments of gratitude to the God of love. The journey to this great feast of the nativity in the flesh of the world’s Savior was different this year with regard to the outward conditions, resulting from the current pandemic. Our church life and the participation of our faithful in the sacred services, as well as the church’s pastoral care and good witness in the world were all affected by the repercussions of the related health restrictions. However, all this does not affect the innermost relationship of the faithful with Christ or of our faith in His providence and our devotion to “the one thing that is necessary.”
“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will to men”
The message of the Angels from heaven to humanity is of particular importance today concerning all the peoples on earth, who are suffering from confusion, anxiety, insecurity, deadly conflicts, exploitation and the sad consequences of the epidemic. And the question is: where do we end up with this situation? Along with all the other everyday problems in human societies, there are psychological ones that have been added, such as depression, despair, the tendency to commit suicide.
Our hearts are thrilled as we hear today the Angels’ message to the pious protector of the Virgin, Joseph. For Mary “will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus (the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua), means Savior, and we will see this joyous declaration become a reality on the holy Night of Christmas, when the Angel will again announce to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “there is born to you … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Significantly, the primary name of the Son of God as God-man will be Savior, and this is because He is the one and only Savior of humanity. St. Peter also made such a declaration in front of the members of the Jewish Council: Only in Jesus is there salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved” (see Acts 4:12).