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
In the name of the living God, let us listen once again
to the brief summary of the Gospel of God's indescribable
dispensation towards us:
"Therefore, the Holy One who is to be born will be
called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
In replying to an anxious question of the Virgin Mary,
the Archangel Gabriel announced this unspeakable joy of the
"mystery which was kept secret since the world began"
(Romans 16:25), even before it had taken place in time. In
so doing, he made no reference to physical, logical or even
moral order, but gave the heavenly assurance concerning the
divine and deifying self-emptying love of God:
- "The Holy One who is to be born will be called the
Son of God"!
The 'self-emptying', however, was a previously unknown
factor, and, precisely for this reason, received no
consideration. It was not, however, simply another normal
development in the course of human history. This is why it
did not require at all the contribution of both the
male and female gender. It was not a work of
nature, such as to have a normal outcome. Rather, it
was of divine will and Providence, and "when
God wills, the laws of nature are overcome".
The pre-eternal 'will' of God existed, as both an idea
and plan, before the creation of the world. It remains
unshakeably the Alpha and the Omega in the
history of the world, regardless of how many know it, or
ignores it; regardless of how many accept it, or reject it.
God, who is All-wise and All-powerful and
All-loving, never acts 'narrow mindedly' or
'haphazardly' as people do. God always acts according to
"the riches of His goodness" (Romans 4:2). This means that
He does not 'plan' and 'implement' things that are
continually changing, as we do, according to our
desires and temporary circumstances.
God wills and acts according to the depth of His
unchanging essence, and this essence, which is
unknown and unapproachable to us, has always been expressed
towards His entire creation only in love, for "God is
love" (1 John 4:16).
In the self-revealed essence of God, through its
limitless beneficial energies, 'love' and 'love
for humanity' (philanthropy) are almost synonymous
terms. If the human person is truly the center and pinnacle
of the whole Creation, then 'philanthropy' means more than
what the term literally states. It is more than a
conventional love for humankind alone.
Philanthropy is that which the Scriptures often describe
as "compassion" (Colossians 3:12), covering the
entire Creation, while at the same time expressing all the
depth of divine Love.
Therefore, philanthropy as Love, and Love as
philanthropy, do not mean that there is an exclusively
mutual relationship between God and the human person -
no matter how much God uses him to approach the rest of
God's good will towards His works and, more specifically,
the calling to participate in His blessedness, are free and
totally without presuppositions. For this precise reason, it
is always called 'grace' (which in Greek means a
'free gift') and is expressed through a whole range of
It was possible for God Himself to be 'born' as a 'human'
only because He acts out of His own fullness - and
not from worldly need or historical necessity - while
He who is born still remains, and is called, the 'Son of
It is characteristic that Christ was known by these two
names throughout His life on earth: 'Son of God' and
'Son of man'. However, when referring to Himself,
Christ mostly used the term 'Son of man'.
We, the faithful in each generation, are entitled to ask
with reverence, "What could this double name possibly
mean?" It could not be at all considered as merely
'conventional' since Christ Himself testifies to
This of course determines how, not only God, but
also human beings, are to be understood and
experienced, in Christ and through Christ.
Christian theology emphasises that we worship not only
the divine nature of the one, undivided
divine Word who became human, but also His human
nature. In so doing, theology expresses the most astounding
interpretation of God and History.
Without idolising the human person, and, more
importantly, without restricting God who is infinite
and. beyond comprehension, it ultimately expresses the
mystery of divine Love. At the same time, it reveals to the
highest degree both the love of God for man,
as well as the God-like character of humanity.
It was with much pain and effort that the Church's
teaching was accurately expressed concerning the union of
the two natures in the one and
undivided Person of Christ (described in the terms of
the 4th Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon as being without
confusion, without change, without
division and without separation). If we had
always taken this seriously, we would have first and
foremost avoided all those pitiful adventures, and the
totally unjustifiable schisms of Monothelitism and
Monophysitism. Furthermore, a vibrant and highly caring
Christianity would have embraced and sanctified the whole
world, 'to the ends of the earth'.
One could therefore ask:
- Into this more godly view of the world, would it be
possible to fit all those official and unofficial crimes
of Christian history around the world, from which we try
to hide the degree of our responsibility with
hypocritical 'apology statements' - especially in recent
years of apparently more widespread awakening in East and
- In the prelude of God's broadest love, could
His world be divided - in the minds of Christians at
least - into those who are 'faithful' and those who are
'unfaithful'? In light of the awesome truth of the
Incarnation of God the Word, what theory of the
'clash' of civilisations or religions could
possibly be justified?
- Given the fact that some people - belonging to their
own religion or ideology - do not 'accept' our Christian
faith (or even mock it or fight it), is this sufficient
for us to exclude them from the Love that they all
deserve, as a 'gift' of God who became man? This would be
just as absurd if we did not recognise that someone was
entitled to an inheritance left in his name,
purely because he is unaware of, or perhaps does not
'accept', this gift!
In closing, it would of course be unnecessary to stress
how timely and salvific are these fundamental
truths of our Faith in God "who for us and our salvation
... was incarnate ... and became human". Especially for
us Christians, but also for all the frightened and
terrorised people, at this gloomy time.
From the vast embrace that this Faith opens up - let the
truly unfaithful hear this at last! - none are
exempt. Neither the Afghans, nor the Albanians, nor the
Slavs, nor the Arabs, nor the Turks, nor the Indians, nor
the Japanese, nor the Chinese, nor the Pygmies, nor the
Aryans, Blacks, Aborigines, or any other race. For, very
simply, "in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek,
male nor female" (Galatians 3:28).
To Him be the honour and glory unto all, ages. Amen.
With fervent prayers for all of you.
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in