the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful of our Greek Orthodox
Concelebrants and beloved children in Christ who is
Birth of Christ, who is the divine Word incarnate, took
place in time, and is described in the theology of the
Fathers of the Church as a Second Creation'!
And rightly so. This is because it does not simply refer to
an isolated event in history, no matter how great and
marvellous that may be. It literally has to do with
'transmutation', with the complete overturning of Creation,
and the whole of history.
For this very
reason, Christmas is not - and should never be considered to
be - a Feast of only one faith, or of one people. It is the
new 'birthday' of the entire Creation, and the beginning of
a new humanity. This conviction is strongly underlined by
the sacred hymnography of the Church, which reverently
exhorts us to,
"Sing to the Lord all the earth
and in joy let the people offer praise
for He Is glorified"!
is not only a distance between this exhortation, on
the one hand, and the response of those who
are called, on the other (which is the distance between
the feasible and the ideal). There is in fact an
unbridgeable gap between the two.
This gap is not
the result of a rejection on the part of the non-believers.
Such a rejection could be considered under certain
conditions, at least for a while, as a further 'possibility'
for evangelism and missionary work 'in the name of the
Lord'. Yet the rejection unfortunately comes from within.
From the tired - if not dangerously slumbering - consciences
of supposedly faithful people.
groups of the Moslem and Christian world are clashing with
each other at the present time on the world stage in an
effort to destroy each other, this does not in itself prove
the Huntington theory to be true.
It is not of
course our faith in Christ which truly provokes Moslems.
For, we cannot ignore that the Koran has substantially
borrowed from Judaism and Christianity! Therefore
that which mainly provokes and infuriates, not only
non-Christians, but also those who believe in Christ, is the
recruited hypocrisy and the militant
unfaithfulness of those who are supposed to be
baptised Christians. As well as the boldness of those Jews
who have dangerously adopted a Pharisaic
Today, no one
can overlook that the most subversive political,
socio-economic or philosophical systems in
history did not in fact come from Islam, or from any Eastern
religion. They were formulated, taught and imposed by either
Christian or Jewish people of Europe and America, and
moreover, with the audacity of bringing 'salvation'
all of humankind!
With the burden
of that past and such a provocative present, the two
people of the Bible' Jews and Christians -
could not possibly influence the followers of other
religions in a positive way. Especially those intensely
struggling peoples who believe in the joy 'that is to
come' rather than in the joy 'of this world', as
do the faithful of Islam.
precisely the reason why in recent times more than a few
intellectuals and artists - mainly from western Christendom
- have easily converted to and joined Eastern religions.
those same people had learned about genuine Christianity
from authentic sources, they themselves would never have
accepted this step backward in spiritual terms.
This is because
the genuine Christian is never resentful nor
vindictive, even when he or she suffers injustice.
Rather, Christians willingly 'take upon themselves' the
mistakes, shortcomings. and even the
crimes, of fellow human beings, preferring the
proverbial 'self blame' of the person who has been
renewed in God. In so doing, they are the first to seek the
mercy and forgiveness of God, for themselves as much as for
Also in saying
'sell-blame', we do not mean here a 'rhetorical ' or
'pietistic' generosity of feelings! On the contrary, we
refer to a deep and realistic conviction that, if the
genuine Christian had sufficiently exercised his duties
within his immediate environment, he would have almost
miraculously warded off any 'misconduct' of fellow human
beings, whether believers or not, by giving a vibrant
understand why the Apostle Paul, echoing the great Prophet
Isaiah, bitterly denounces the fact that the name
of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of
you (Rom 2:24).
sociologists who come from Christian societies, have for
some time described this inner betrayal' and
'decline' in a more concise manner, by speaking of a
'post-Christian' epoch and society. This means in
very simple terms that we were the first to reject God
Incarnate, and we are now only dealing with His 'legend',
like a coin that is no longer in use!
lamentable circumstances of historical Christianity, what
then of the triumphant cry of the hymnographer which invites
us to sing to the Lord all the earth"? How are
we to deal, above all, with the words "in joy let
the people offer praise for He is glorified'?
Does not all of
this sound today like a provocation and
mockery, if not an unacceptable blasphemy, for the
consciences of all vigilant and honourable people?
In spite of
this, saying that "HE IS GLORIFIED" at Christmas
directly corresponds to Christ's words "IT IS
FINISHED" spoken from the Cross.
The process of
renewing and making incorrupt the fallen world
and humanity, is always mystically brought forth in the
'absolute measure' of utter humility of the Incarnate
God and Word, something which is even more dramatically
expressed by the image of the 'Slaughtered Lamb' found in
the Book of Revelation.
To God who
became man for our sake, belongs all worship and glory unto
the ages. Amen With fervent prayers to the Lord in Christ
who is Born
With fervent prayers for all of you.
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in