Nativity epistle of His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel. 2016

11:25 AM

Aрxieпископъ Монреальскiй и Канадскiй
The Most Reverend Archbishop Gabriel
of Montreal and Canada

The Nativity Epistle of Archbishop Gabriel

To the clergy and all the faithful flock of the Canadian diocese
Beloved in Christ brothers and sisters!

The Holy Orthodox Church in the liturgical hymns for the feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, often repeats the word ‘rejoice’. At the beginning of the Nativity eve vespers service we hear the words: “Come, let us greatly rejoice in the Lord…” (Stichira on “Lord I have cried” for 25th of December). And later on we hear: “Let heaven and earth today make glad prophetically” (Stichira at the Litia). Our Lord came to us from the Ever-Virgin Mary and “shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with man” (Baruch 3: 38) as the prophet Baruch foretold five centuries before the events of the Nativity, which we are now remembering. These events that we are celebrating happened more than twenty centuries ago, but since then annually at this time of year in our hearts, as much as the Lord grants to us, we feel that special joy, which was felt by the participants and witnesses of the Nativity: the most-holy Mother of God, humble Joseph, the shepherds who were watching their flocks in the night, the wise men, and the countless heavenly angels. God’s will was done. Every word that the Lord spoke through the mouths of His prophets foretelling the appearance in the flesh of Christ the Saviour, took place and no one throughout the world could in any way stop this or in the least change the will of God in any way.

The mighty king Herod cleverly found out from the wise men the possible age of the infant Jesus – the King of the Jews (Mat. 2:16). Before this he called a council of scribes, who once again confirmed that, according to the words spoken through the prophet Micah, Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Mat. 2: 5-6). A company of soldiers was sent to Bethlehem with orders to slay all of the children not only in the town, but “in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under” (Mat. 2: 16). Despite these efforts Herod’s goal was not achieved. In those awful hours, when the streets of the ancient city of David were filled with “lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning” (Mat. 2: 18), the Child, His mother and Joseph, warned by an angel who appeared in a dream to Joseph (Mat. 2: 13), made their way unnoticed first to the temple in Jerusalem, where they offered the appropriate sacrifices (Luke 2: 22-23), and then, according to God’s command, left for Egypt (Mat. 2: 13, 19-20).

In these difficult times, when the world has been engulfed by anxiety and the future of the world and our personal future is unknown to us, let us not forget God’s unfailing promise to us. We must continuously pray so that the Lord will show us the path that we should walk. Let us pray to the newly born Christ-Child that he grant us to calmly, not falling into any temptations which constantly assail us, fulfill the will of God.

Christ is born, glorify Him! Christ is born, meet Him!

Archbishop of Montreal and Canada
Nativity, 2015/2016