CHRISTMAS GREETING OF HIS BEATITUDE LUBOMYR
TO THE FAITHFUL OF THE UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH
Dearly Beloved in Christ!
Today, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, the Gospel recounted the genealogy of Jesus Christ, from Abraham to the birth of our Saviour. Listening to this detailed record of generations, it becomes clear that the coming of Christ to humanity was prepared in advance, and that his appearance on the earth took place exactly according to the plan of our Heavenly Father. Not only the birth, but the entire life of Jesus Christ had been foreseen centuries earlier by the prophets. We find an example of this in the Holy Gospel: when the three wise men from the East came to Herod in order to learn where the new King had been born, Herod called the scribes, who without hesitation said that the Messiah was to come to the world in Bethlehem in Judea, “for so it is written by the prophet” (Mt 2:5).
Dearly Beloved in Christ, I bring this to your attention because as we think about the events of our daily lives, we tend to think that they occur by chance. We often think that things could be different. Sometimes it seems that everything is haphazard, and that the Lord God has forgotten about the world. However, our faith, based on God’s Revelation, gives us the opposite response: everything that happens in our personal and public lives, except sin, corresponds to God’s plan. We find proof of this in the life of Jesus Christ, from the promise of the Messiah given to our first parents in the Garden to His glorious resurrection. From this follows the next question: why does the Lord God allow things that are unpleasant for us or even cause us great suffering? In the Gospel of Luke Jesus Christ answers this when he speaks about future history and the unfolding of various tragic events to come. His words are: “that will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Lk 21:13). If there were no hunger, there would be no one to feed; if there were no thirst, there would be no one’s thirst to quench; if there were no strangers, there would be no one to receive; if there were no patients or prisoners, there would be no one to visit. If there were no Christmas, there would not be Good Friday and Easter. Thus everything that happens around us, even the most tragic events, is part of God’s plan, which gives us the opportunity to witness for Christ and seek truth, justice, and good.
It may seem that these thoughts have nothing to do with the joyful Christmas season, when people gather at a common table, exchange gifts, sing carols, and visit one another. In fact, the essence of the great feast of Christmas lies not in these external and fleeting moments; the essence of this feast is that the only begotten Son of God came among us to implement fully the plan of the Heavenly Father for our salvation. This is why my greatest wish for all of us is that this truth—that God is with us—would occupy the central place in our Christmas celebrations, that we might keep it in our hearts and minds throughout the year, making our lives meaningful and providing salvific value to every moment of our earthly existence.
Dearly Beloved in Christ! At the end of this message I would like to make one request of you which is to a certain extent related to our Christmas celebrations since it concerns the land in which our Saviour was born. Today in the Holy Land, particularly in Bethlehem, Christians, who already constitute a minority, are in a discouraging position. These people need our support. The faithful of the Church in Ukraine still remember well what oppression and persecution are because they suffered through them several decades ago. At the same time they understand the value of prayer, for they asked for such support from their brothers and sisters who lived abroad. Of course, the fate of Christians in the Holy Land is different from that which we experienced in years past, but it is still very difficult, and we ought to help them. Let us commend to the merciful Lord the inhabitants of this land on which His only begotten Son was born and its Christians – His faithful followers. Let this be our Christmas gift to them.
Sincerest wishes to you for a blessed and joyous Christmas!
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you!
Christ is born!