By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful of our Greek Orthodox
Brother Concelebrants and beloved children in Christ who
This year's Christmas is the last of the century and of
Moreover, of course the adjective "last" used here
is not meant literally, since it is not used absolutely and
generally, but only within the context of specific limits of
time. Yet even when used in this way - namely inaccurately
and under certain conditions - the term last brings to the
soul certain mystical connotations. It is these connotations
precisely which transfer us almost automatically to the
"eschatological" that is eternal, truths of
Yet no matter how often we hear these truths or make
mention of them - even if on festive occasions - once a
year, we unfortunately do not allow them to enlighten our
consciences sufficiently, to the point where we are truly
Christianised. Thus while we hastily tried, as
missionaries from east and west, to
Christianise other people whom we normally considered
to be barbarians or idolaters, we kept own
barbarism as the apple of our eye. Sometimes we even
kept it as a measure of truth and as a model of
perfection. We did this - in our foolishness - hoping
that though the social and cultural forms of dubious "good
morals", we could pretend to be the chosen ones under
the guise of the religion of the God-man.
This is why 2000 years of Christian preaching -
confessing and witnessing to the faith - have unfortunately
not yet managed to procure for humanity "peace" or
"good will", both of which were announced by the
choir of angels on the night of Christmas. Peace and good
will were never realised in human society - even in
so-called Christian societies - for the simple reason that
they were neither understood nor drawn from their authentic
source, which is God alone:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace
good will to all people" (Luke 2:14).
Peace without God is simply the absence of open conflict,
and good will, which is not inspired by the spirit of God,
is the hypocrisy of this world.
However, if the "glory of God" is the only power which
can secure "peace on earth", then we should always seek the
solution of our problems, be they ethical or spiritual, or
even social, political and economic, guided by the question:
what is the "glory of God" and how is it to be
We owe it to ourselves to focus our attention on this
question, which promises to solve our most vital questions
and, at the same time, secure to us the promised blessings
of God Incarnate.
For the faithful person who reads the scared text of the
Holy Scriptures with the necessary reverence and humility,
together with the commentaries contained in the works of the
Fathers, theology, and the worship of the Church, the "glory
of God" is always understood as "con-descension",
"self-emptying", and "utter humility".
The first self-emptying and humiliation of God was the
very creation of the world "out of nothing", and especially
the making of the human person "in the image of God".
God, who is beyond need, beyond time, beyond
relationship, and beyond essence, enters the conditions of
space and time in order to share His indivisible blessedness
and His kingdom with the spiritual creations of His
The second self-emptying, which was also named the
"second Creation" by the fathers, was the mystery of the
Birth of God in the fresh, the divine "Incarnation", the
purpose of which was to deify "according to grace" the human
person who is corruptible "by nature". The Incarnate Son and
Word of God is the ultimate climax, as well as the final
judgement, of God for the entire Creation and its
The mystery and the "wisdom of the Cross" lead to the
mystical depths of divine Love, thereby showing the
authentic nature of the glory and power of God.
If, for the sinful world, having "glory" and "power" mean
that you can impress, frighten, steal,
and dominate others, with the hidden goal of finally
overpowering them, the spirit of the Gospel by
contrast holds the other person in front of you as the most
sacred responsibility and perspective. For, in
the other person you see God incarnate Himself right now, as
well as your own self.
Given that God is love and grace -; which
cannot be repaid -; He commands us also, who are His
"image", to go lower in order to lift the other person, or
to condescend in order to raise the other. In the mystery of
God's love, becoming poorer is really a power, which
uncovers a deeper richness. Moreover, to humble yourself in
fact shows true nobility and glory. This is precisely what
the words of the Holy Eucharist declare in stating that the
"Bread of life" is "broken yet not divided,
ever eaten yet never expended".
Therefore, peace, justice, and unity will, for tormented
humankind, never be achieved expansively, that is to say
through the spreading of the dubious deals of the world's
powerful people to the ends of the earth. They will only be
achieved contractedly, i.e. concentratedly, by keeping our
hope in the "common denominator", which was given to us in
the cave (manger).
The heads of nations speak today about
"globalisation" and "means of communication".
We have been speaking for two thousand years about
"deification in Christ" and "communication between the
divine and the human", which is ensured not by the kind of
"media", but by the only "Mediator" between heaven and
earth, the God-man who has appeared.
To Him be glory and honour and worship to all ages.
With fervent prayers for all of you.
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in