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By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
Of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese



"What shall we offer to you, O Christ!"
(Sticheron Hymn from the Vespers Service of Christmas)

Brother Concelebrants and beloved children in Christ who is born,

The annually recurring Feast of the divine 'Incarnation' is not only the starting point of the entire Ecclesiastical Year. It is not simply the historical basis, that is, of all the Feasts of Christ and the Mother of God throughout the Christian world. It is, above all, the 'key' that secures both access to, and enjoyment of, every blessing for perishable man's eternity in God.

St Paul, therefore, justifiably states that the blessings in mention are such that "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man" (1 Cor. 2:9).

Should man attempt to 'appraise' these blessings, based solely on his worldly 'experiences' and 'knowledge' and 'desires', then it is certain that he will 'miss the point'. In other words, he will not be able to enter into the essence of the mysteries of life. And this, because one's life is not exhausted in the biology, the physiology and the vigour of the body. It extends inexplicably into the foretaste of the Kingdom of God already through the transient 'Forms' of the present world.

We could say that, having the divine 'Incarnation' as the fixed axis, things were literally turned 'upside down': A fundamental renewal and rebirth of the human race took place.

As a result, the 'impermanence', that is, the 'temporality' of the present world no longer terrifies the person of faith, It is no longer a 'gaping wound', the healing of which we do not know in terms of 'when' and 'how'.

The 'impermanence' which previously represented only uncertainty and fear in the face of the Unknown, is now converted directly into a dynamic ‘transition’.

By 'transition', however, we do not mean, of course, the 'transito' of our curiosity on the skin of the earth. Nor our invasive ambitions in outer Space.

Because all of these 'activities' which, as a rule, emanate from mischievousness, constitute an impasse whose course remains on a Horizontal level, if not in a Void. And such a course, inevitably reminds us of a snake that 'bites its own tail'!

The transition which God 'opens up' for us through His Incarnation is characterised first and foremost by a Vertical line. It is a movement whose first impetus is given by the Creator and Providential 'Lord of Hosts' (which is why this powerful movement is called 'GRACE'). In the continuity of its upward course, man is also called to 'collaborate', realised through a sense of honour to become a "co-worker with God" (l Cor. 3:9).

However, this unprecedented honour of 'collaboration' with the uncreated Creator Himself towards the moral perfection of the world was an acutely dangerous 'privilege'.

It could have led us not simply to ‘failure’, but to complete 'destruction'!

It could also have led us to 'vainglory', that is, to pride, which defeated even Lucifer himself who, from an 'Angel of Light turned out to be the first sacrilegious 'Rival' of the Creator, thus teaching an attempted 'takeover' of utter ingratitude.

With such woeful 'memories' of the adventure of the first Adam, the 'second Adam' (as the Fathers expressly called the Incarnate God) came in order to teach extreme humility. Not only towards the 'will of the Father' but also in terms of the 'bankruptcy' of man!

This obedience to the will of the Father caused 'God the Word' to become 'human' in order to teach 'fallen man' not simply 'rectification' but also 'deification' (theosis) by grace.

And the extreme humility in the face of man's bankruptcy meant that, after all, the permanent 'adoption' of 'strayed' humanity was not averted. Because the 'grace of God' is - by definition - a Love which is 'unconditional' and 'non-repayable'.

Justifiably, therefore, all faithful share in the confession of the Psalmist who wrote in 'perplexity' and 'gratitude', professing:

"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?" (Psalm 116:12)

 To Him be glory and honour and worship to the ages!

With fervent prayers in Christ
Archbishop STYLIANOS
Christmas 2006

Archbishop's message in Greek (Quicktime movie)

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