CHRISTMAS MESSAGE from METROPOLITAN PAVEL OF MANILA AND HANOI.
TO THE GOD-LOVING FLOCK OF THE PHILIPPINE – VIETNAMESE DIOCESE.
“We magnify You, O Life-giver Christ, Who for our sake is now born in the flesh.”
Beloved pastors of the Lord, dear brothers and sisters! Another year has passed, and we are once again entering into the joy of the Christmas holiday. On the same days, we celebrate the New Year, according to custom, summing up the results of the year that has passed and thinking about the future. The Holy Church now calls us to spiritual rejoicing, remembering that great and unforgettable day when “The Great mystery of piety was realized: God appeared in the flesh” (1 Tim.3:16). St. Gregory the Theologian, in a sermon on this holiday, showing its greatness, exclaims: “I will proclaim the power of the day. The Bodiless incarnates, the Word solidifies, the Invisible becomes visible, the Intangible is touchable. The Son of God becomes the son of man.” (St. Gregory the Theologian. Creations. part 1, p. 522). The feast of the Nativity of Christ contains everything that can animate us and give us hope, but at the same time it contains everything that can awaken the careless and frighten the unworthy. Today, no one can justify himself by ignorance of God and salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not the first time that we have heard the angelic gospel that “the Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David” (Luke 2:11), and it is not the first year that we celebrate Christmas, and we already know the meaning of this Holy Day. And here the question arises: What does this holiday bring to our lives? Or, how do we perceive it, are we changing in our lives for the better, refraining from evil and eradicating sinful habits from our lives? Dear fathers, brothers and sisters, our life has an endless opposition: evil to good, darkness to light, sin to virtue… Our high and sacred duty as Orthodox Christians is to resist evil with good in every possible way. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” the Apostle Paul urges (Romans 12:21). A religious view of life helps to draw the right conclusions from everything that happens to us. And “the fruit of spirit”, according to the Apostle Paul, is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, mercy, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). Do we perform these virtues in our lives? On the contrary, evil deeds, called by the same apostle the works of the flesh, literally overwhelm our society. “They are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, magic, enmity, quarrels, envy, anger, strife, disagreements, (temptations,) heresies, hatred, murders, drunkenness, outrages and so on” (Gal. 5, 19-21). A nation in which such vices flourish cannot become a welfare society. Our sorrows and our disorder are the natural result of the evil that we commit, convincing evidence of the inevitability of the consequences of violation of the moral law by man. By the grace of God, we now see that more people are beginning to see the connection that exists between the moral crisis of the individual and the tragic consequences in society. More people are turning their hearts and minds to God, seeking to find the support of their lives in Him. And if there is a spiritual rebirth of our people, then, undoubtedly, the society will be reborn in all its spiritual beauty and strength.Dear fathers, brothers and sisters! I wholeheartedly thank the clergy and laity of the Philippine–Vietnamese Diocese for their hard work for the glory of God, for the benefit of the Holy Mother Church. I believe that the Lord will help us to pass all the trials that have fallen on our time and grant us a prosperous and peaceful life. As we enter the New Year 2024, let us offer our prayers to the Lord for fraternal unity and mutual understanding, for patience and mutual respect in society, and for peace between peoples. “Your Nativity, O Christ our God, raised up the light of knowledge in the world…”, we sing in the tropar of the holiday. Indeed, the feast of Christmas is a feast of knowledge, for in Christ we are clothed with knowledge and learn the way to true happiness. In these joyful Christmas days, we sincerely wish each other to find the light of knowledge that Christ the Savior, born in Bethlehem, brought to us, so that this light illuminates the path of life ahead of us. Happy great holiday, congratulations to all of you, my dear!
By the Grace of God,
METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOI