Metropolit Josephs Julehilsen 2022


Christ is born, glo­ri­fy Him!

Dea­rest Belo­ved Fat­hers, Bro­t­hers and Sisters,

Glory to God in the hig­he­st, and on earth pea­ce, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). It is with the­se words, that the angels joy­ful­ly pra­i­sed the com­ing to earth of the Son of God on the Holy Eve of Nati­vi­ty two thous­and twen­ty-two years ago. The human race had long awai­ted the Savi­or of the wor­ld, and the shep­herds of Bet­hle­hem, pure in heart and fil­led with sin­ce­re faith, were the first to recei­ve the mes­sa­ge of the Bir­th of Christ. “I bring you good tidings of gre­at joy”, the angel told them, “which shall be to all peop­le. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savi­or, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–11).

St. Apost­le Paul calls this event “gre­at is the myste­ry of god­li­ness: God was mani­fest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). “He Who, being the brigh­t­ness of His glory”, (Heb. 1:3) has beco­me “the Son of man” (Luke 7:34). He has brought low the hea­vens, as the hym­nist poe­ti­cal­ly descri­bes the Bir­th of Christ, and has des­cen­ded to earth. “But when the ful­l­ness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a Woman, made under the law, to rede­em them that were under the law, that we might recei­ve the adop­tion of sons.” (Gal.4:4–5).

It was out of love, that the Son of God came down to earth and gave us recon­ci­li­a­tion (2 Cor. 5:19), the word of life (Phil. 2:16), that He might lift us up to Hea­ven. (Phil.3:20).

It is this Gospel mes­sa­ge of Christ, which the Apost­les spre­ad to all the peop­les of the wor­ld, and tho­se who belie­ved, they made mem­bers of the Church of Christ and chil­dren of God through the Myste­ry of Holy Bap­tism (1 John 3:1). Through the labors of the Apost­les in prea­ching the Gospel, local Chur­ches appea­red in all parts of the wor­ld, much as oases in the desert, and the­se Chur­ches in turn com­pri­se the One, Holy, Cat­ho­lic and Apo­sto­lic Church, who­se Head is Christ.

The Church history tells us, that in 988, at the moment when the peop­le of Kiev were being bap­tized in the waters of the Dnie­per River, the Equal-to-the-Apost­les Prin­ce Vla­di­mir pray­ed: “O God, look dawn from hea­ven, and behold, and visit, bless and nourish this our viney­ard, which You have plan­ted with Your right hand.”

Thanks to his ardent labors, the Faith of Christ spre­ad throug­hout the lands of Kie­van Rus and bey­ond. Along with it, the peop­les’ educa­tion and cul­tu­re flouris­hed, and numerous beau­ti­ful temp­les and mona­ste­ri­es were built, whe­re even today Ortho­dox Ukrai­ni­ans and Rus­si­ans pra­i­se and glo­ri­fy The Lord.

Now, that we have ente­red the 2nd Mil­len­ni­um of Ortho­dox Chri­sti­an Faith in the Ukrai­ni­an and Rus­si­an Lands, to our deepe­st regret, we have beco­me wit­nes­ses to a bloo­dy fra­tri­ci­dal war. Despi­te of the con­stant mili­tary ope­ra­tions and atta­cks and the dis­rup­tions of the civi­li­an life, Ortho­dox Chri­sti­ans in both coun­tri­es, Ukrai­ne and Rus­sia, con­ti­nue to wors­hip the Com­ing of Our Lord, born of The Most Holy Vir­gin Mary, in Bethlehem.

My Dear­ly Belo­ved in the New­born Lord, we in our Bul­ga­ri­an Ortho­dox Dio­ce­se, like all the Ortho­dox Ukrai­ni­ans and Rus­si­ans, are reci­pi­ents of the same spi­ri­tu­al lega­cy and ecc­lesi­a­sti­cal tra­di­tions of our pious ance­stors. Just as the branch can­not bring forth fru­it, if it does not remain on the vine (John15:4), so too, we can­not embo­dy in our lives the spi­ri­tu­al lega­cy of our ance­stors, if we do not remain one in our spi­ri­tu­al Mot­her – the Ortho­dox Church of Christ. My warm request to all of you now is: “Plea­se, let us pray to the New­born God-Child for pea­ce in Ukrai­ne, in Rus­sia, and among the nations in the enti­re world!”

It is through the Holy Myste­ri­es that we parta­ke of the never- ending wellspring of Good­ness, and it is through pious living that we dee­pen our roots in the soil of the Church. Just as a seed which has fal­len on fer­ti­le soil brings forth a rich har­vest, so too, we who have been graf­ted to the Church of Christ through the Sacra­ment of Holy Bap­tism, and who remain wit­hin the holy enclo­su­re of the Ortho­dox Church, are to bring forth a rich har­vest through the examp­le of our lives.

Dear­ly Belo­ved in the Lord, fat­hers, bro­t­hers and sisters! I sin­ce­re­ly gre­et you with this day of gre­at joy – the Feast of the Bir­th of Christ.

May the gra­ce of the God-Child born to us today remain with each one of you throug­hout the year, and con­ti­nu­al­ly bring you spi­ri­tu­al joy, renewal and a Bles­sed Ortho­dox Chri­sti­an Life.

During the­se holy days, let us all bring forth our pure and ste­ad­fast faith as a gift to the new­born Christ, and likewi­se give wit­ness to this faith with wor­ks of love and mer­cy. Let us con­ti­nu­al­ly “grow in gra­ce, and in the know­led­ge of Our Lord and Savi­or Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and fore­ver. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18).

Have a Hap­py and Bles­sed New 2023 Year!

With love in the New­born God-Child,

+ (S) Metro­po­li­tan JOSEPH