The Son of God Was Born at Night to Dispel the Spiritual Night
Nativity 2019 Epistle of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine
The primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine
To the archpastors, pastors, monastics, and all faithful children
of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
I warmly congratulate you all, God-loving archpastors and pastors, pious monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters, with the great and joyous Feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.
In these sacred days, all the fullness of our holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church raises humble prayers, recalling and glorifying the incomprehensible Divine love and thanking God that He descended to earth and took human nature upon Himself in order to save us. St. Gregory of Neocaesarea says that God the Ancient of Days became a babe to make us children of God; He Who is seated in glory in Heaven lies for our sake in the manger of dumb beasts; the passionless, bodiless, boundless One is wrapped in swaddling clothes to break the bonds of sin that bound mankind.
In these festive days we remember with love and reverent wonder the blessed Bethlehem night, under the mysterious cover of which was carried out the great mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). The Son of God was born at night to dispel the spiritual night by which sin had encompassed mankind and to remind us that He, our Savior and Lord, is the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (Jn. 1:9) and that He is the Light of Truth with which the night becomes day and without which the day becomes night.
How happy were the Bethlehem shepherds who heard the angelic song: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Lk. 2:14). With trepidation they entered the Bethlehem cave and saw the wondrous Divine Infant, swaddled and lying in a manger (cf. Lk. 2:7). Their minds could not comprehend, but by the faith of their hearts they understood that before them lies He Who at one time created Adam from the virgin soil and Who now formed flesh for Himself from the Most Pure Virgin and Himself came to earth as the New Adam.
By the faith of their hearts, the shepherds understood that before them lay the Pre-Eternal God Who came to earth to save mankind, which He created, and to destroy death, which He did not create (Wis. 1:13). By the faith of their hearts, the shepherds understood that before them lay the Great Shepherd Who giveth His life for the sheep (Jn. 10:11), Who left the many sheep who had not gone astray in order to find the one who was lost (Mt. 18:12).
The Wise Men, three kings from the east came to the newborn Divine Infant, bringing Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. To the magi was revealed that before them lay the High Priest of good things to come (Heb. 9:11) and the King of kings (Rev. 19:16). The news that a King had come into the world (Mt. 2:2) alarmed the power-hungry King Herod, and then, throughout all of history, this news alarmed those who, like Herod, were possessed by the passion of lust for power. The power-hungry do not want to have a King over them, for in their pride they consider themselves better than all. The power-hungry do not perceive power as a Cross that God would lay upon them; they believe that power is something that must be achieved using all possible measures and means, regardless of their moral content. The power-hungry, if they even believe in Christ, do not submit to Christ, but conversely, try to force Christ to make them earthly kings. That is precisely what the Jewish elders demanded from the Savior as from the Messiah; and when they heard the words of the Savior, that His Kingdom is not of this world, they loathed Christ and crucified Him.
Lust for power is a coin with theomachy on the other side. Lust for power destroys everyone possessed by it, regardless of whether it’s a secular person or someone vested in a high spiritual office; it destroys everyone and everything.
We must remember this, dear brothers and sisters. We must remember that the Son of God came to earth to grant us the eternal Kingdom, a Kingdom not of this world. The Son of God created the Church, which leads man to the eternal Kingdom and eternal life. The Church is the mystical Body of Christ, and He, the Son of God, our Savior, is its head and great helmsman. All people, without exception, must submit to the Church, that is, not rule it, but live according to the Church’s laws. Whoever brings the laws of ambition and violence into the life of the Church becomes a stranger in the Church body, who, sooner or later, the grace of God will cast out beyond the threshold of the Church.
May it not be so with us, for Christ was born to unite us in the Truth, Which He Himself is, that in Christ we would learn what the will of God is and try to carry it out, for in the will of God is our life.
Again, I congratulate you, dear brothers and sisters, with the Nativity of Christ, with the New Church Year and with the holy feast of Theophany. May the Son of God Who was born into the world and became the Son of Man bless you all and our entire Ukrainian people and land. May the star of Bethlehem illuminate our earthly paths that we would spend the days of our earthly pilgrimage in peace, humility, and mutual love, and in eternity would be accounted worthy of living in joy where reigns the eternal King our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine