Christmas Message by Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine to the archpastors, pastors, monastics and all the faithful children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Christ is born, glorify Him.
Christ is from Heaven, go to meet Him.
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
An irmos of the canon of the Nativity of Christ
With these holy words I cordially greet all of you, God-loving archpastors and pastors, devout monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters, on the great world-saving Feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Saviour and God, Lord Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, this year we also celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Christ with the rumble of deadly gunfire, with which the enemies are destroying our land and our people. In addition to that affliction, we are also suffering from the internal enmity incited on religious grounds within our people. Any internal or external enmity has one effect, one action — it weakens and ruins us.
But we are standing courageously, defending our land, and attesting with love our Christian dignity and honour. We pray to God with deep hope that the Lord will have mercy on us and ‘deliver us from our enemies and defend us from them that have risen up against us’ (Ps. 58, 2).
No circumstances can separate us from the love of God, so today, we lift our eyes with understanding to Heaven and joyfully celebrate the Nativity of Christ.
The Nativity of Christ is a feast of peace and God’s goodwill. The Nativity of Christ is the great mystery of God’s coming into the world in the flesh. The Nativity of Christ is the incarnation of Divine Love, Which brought Heaven to earth.
Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea calls the Nativity of Christ a new wonder, in which the Ancient of Days God became a Babe so as to make people God’s children, and Venerable Ephraim the Syrian says that in the Nativity of Christ, the Godhead set on Himself the seal of man in order to adorn man with the seal of the Godhead. Dwelling upon our foremother Eve and the Most Holy Virgin Mary, this very saint says that Eve gave birth to a murderer, and the Most Holy Virgin Mary gave birth to the Life-Giver. Eve gave birth to a man who shed his brother’s blood, and the Most Holy Virgin Mary gave birth to the One Who shed His own blood for His brothers’ sake.
Human mind cannot comprehend how much good, light, warmth, and Divine love descended to earth on the blessed Bethlehem night. It cannot be comprehended even by Holy Angels, who on the blessed night of the Nativity appeared to the Bethlehem shepherds and announced that there was born that day in the city of David a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord (Lk. 2, 9–11). The shepherds were the first from among the earth-born to come to the Bethlehem cave and worship the Divine Christ Child, telling the Mother of God and the elder Joseph everything the Angel had made known to them.
On that very first day of the Nativity of Christ, three wise men — the Magi from the East — came to the Bethlehem cave. A miraculous star appeared to them and led them to the newborn Divine Christ Child. The Magi worshipped the Divine Child and presented the prophetic gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
What wonderful Divine love for us, sinful people! Barely had the Son of God been born when He was already calling all mankind to Himself. The Holy Angels who appeared to the Bethlehem shepherds, says Venerable Ephraim the Syrian, are a sign through which the Divine Christ Child invites the Jewish people to Himself, and the miraculous star that appeared to the eastern Kings is a sign through which the Lord invites all mankind to Himself. And today, when more than two thousand years have passed since the Nativity of Christ, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ once again calls each of us to Himself.
During his earthly life, every man goes through trials, in which he passes a spiritual exam of his dignity. Amidst hardships and trials of life, each of us must attest to his reasonable love for God, his Creator and Sustainer, and for people, who are bearers of the image of the eternal God. A person who does not lose his reasonable love to God and to his neighbour amidst trials and difficulties thus attests that he is going to God and wants to be a partaker of the saving triumph which the Pre-Eternal God has prepared for us through His Nativity and to which the Lord invites us: ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11, 28).
Some think that peace and tranquility of soul can be attained through wealth, entertainment, and human fame. As a rule, such people try to accumulate wealth and surround themselves with human fame by all means, hoping that they will find spiritual peace and happiness in it. And what a tragedy it is when a man notices that, having gained wealth and fame, he has not attained spiritual peace and happiness. For spiritual peace and happiness are a gift of God, which depends upon neither wealth nor fame. Blessed is he who has been able to understand it and who, like the prodigal son, has the courage to get up and return to his Father’s house.
The soul of every man wants prayer, repentance, humility, and love, which is evidenced by good deeds. And those people who fill their souls with prayer and active love, regardless of whether they are rich or poor and whether they are famous and renowned or obscure, enjoy happiness and peace, which the Divine Christ Child brought to earth and which the Holy Angels sang praises to on the Nativity night: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’ (Lk. 2, 14).
I once again sincerely greet all of you, dear brothers and sisters, on the Feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. I wish everyone peace, happiness, health, and salvation, so that we may all become worthy partakers of the saving Divine triumph, given to us by the Divine Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be from us glory, honour, and worship for ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless our Ukrainian land and the whole world with peace.
Happy Nativity of Christ!
Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine
Nativity of Christ, 2024,
Source: Ukrainian Orthodox Church