CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2013
By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia to all the Reverend Clergy and devout faithful of our holy Archdiocese
Brother concelebrants and beloved children of the Church,
Once again, we are preparing to celebrate Christmas and the other Feasts of the sacred Twelve Days following.
Yet, the phenomena of international violence, together with crime of every kind and materialistic hysteria, do not allow us to experience the joy of the Incarnation in a sincere and God-pleasing manner. We cannot even chant the angelic hymn of peace with ‘untainted lips’ and with a clear conscience.
If, after the passage of so many centuries, the Incarnation of God has not made our world more loving, this is due not so much to the non-Christians as perhaps to the Christians of East and West, whose conduct not only fails to provide a good example, but instead provokes the non-Christians in particular.
When Mahatma Gandhi – that renowned pacifist political leader of India – was asked why he did not adopt Christianity, his reply was overwhelming: “I would have become a Christian long ago, if so called Christians followed the teaching of Christ 24 hours a day!”
It is unfortunately true that, neither the public nor private lives of Christians could be an example for non-Christians to follow, as they rightly evaluate us based on the criterion of the Gospel of Christ.
If we take into account how many ‘treaties’ and ‘protocols’ of peace have been agreed to internationally, introduced mainly by Christian peoples, we will admit that the dream of “peace on earth” still remains distant and unfulfilled. Since, of course, true peace is not simply the absence of war, but respect for the human person, which is an image of the invisible God. And in saying the ‘human person’, we do so regardless of race, gender, colour, religion or age.
With the Birth of Christ, God becomes our neighbour and our neighbour becomes God. And all of this is not due to some blind necessity of nature, but rather to God’s immeasurable mercy and love for all humankind.
To Him be the glory and power and veneration unto all ages. Amen!
With fervent prayers to Him
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia