Christmas Message from Archbishop Gabriel of Comana

Christmas ! Today the angels announce to us the Good News : ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will among men !’ Each of us is invited to receive this message with joy, for God is manifesting himself in the mystery of his Incarnation in order to tell us that we are saved ! The Lord Jesus, by taking on our flesh, wants to show us how much we are loved by God, whatever may be our situation when we receive this message. The whole of humanity receives this sign that we are being given for our salvation ! But what, then, is this sign ? A child laid in a crib. What is more beautiful than a child ! What is more fragile ! Jesus is hungry, he is cold, his eyes are not yet used to the light - he who is the Light ! This birth is characterised by poverty, by insecurity, by weakness. This is how God tells us that he loves us : he humbles himself to be as we are, taking on our human condition ... and we know where this will lead him. Just like all the babies in the world, he holds out his arms, as later on he will stretch them out on the Cross, to draw together all the people of this earth, saving them once and for all from death.

Dear brothers and sisters, we who wish to be Christians should pay attention to the way in which the Lord shows us his Love. We are invited to receive Love, and to give love. In the image of our God, we need to experience this. And in order to experience it, let us draw on the great humility of Christ, that inexhaustible treasure which is available for us.

Let us not be afraid to speak to the God who loves us. We may be aware that we are poor, that we are sinners, that we have nothing to offer - so much the better ! Let us go to the Lord as we are ! Let us try to be true to ourselves : this is the apprenticeship of humility. Whether we are priests, lay people, deacons, bishops, let us celebrate together in humility with the Lord at every moment, and praise him who is Love. Let us not be afraid of our poverty, however great it may be ! - ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him ...’ Like little children let us cry out our joy, let us cry out our love towards the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Icône de la Nativité du Christ, JPEG - 197.9 ko Sometimes Orthodox Christians are surprised - even disturbed - to see how few of us there are in our countries : let us accept this apparent limitation as Christ our God accepted to take on our feeble humanity. Let us not fall into the pit that consists in believing that a Church is better when she has a greater number of the faithful. The Lord has never asked us to be numerous, but humbly to love God and our fellow human beings. Like the Saviour of the world, born in a cave and laid in a manger, let us try to love while remaining humble. In this way we will benefit from the grace of the self-emptying of Jesus, who manifests himself today in the mystery of his Incarnation.

I want to say this to you as well : do not be afraid to try to love the brothers and sisters who surround us. Let us train ourselves in love. We do not know how to love - let us learn ! We are apprentices of love on this earth. Apprenticeship is never easy. Let us serve our apprenticeship with humility, and look for help from our Master. God had compassion on Adam. This is what characterises his Love : he wants to free Adam from the shadow of death. But to do this the Lord shows his compassion by humbling himself. He does not come as a conqueror on this earth ! He humbles himself to the extent of becoming a little child among the small, the poor, among us sinners. Let us praise him for this mystery of humility. With the help of grace let us love with compassion those around us. That means that each of us, according to his or her strength, takes upon himself or herself the suffering, the anguish of the world, and places it at the feet of the Lord Jesus. I dare to say to you that this will be received by Christ like the gold of the Magi. Mercy and compassion count for more than gold in the eyes of God !

Know this, then, brothers and sisters : a Church that works with compassion for the entire world is a Church that lives, and advances towards the joy of the Resurrection with the whole of humanity. She does nothing but follow the work of her God, who, desiring to have compassion on his creation, became incarnate and humbled himself. He is born in a cave, and will die on a cross ! Let us never be people of whom it can be said : ‘They have forgotten their compassion ...’

In this beautiful and holy Feast, I wish that you may all taste the Joy and the Peace of Christmas. May we rejoice together in going to draw upon the great treasure of the humility and the compassion of Jesus Christ. Once more I convey to all of you my love. Amen !

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