Saturday, January 15, 2005

Nativity Encyclical of Metropolitan Pavlos of America ("Chrysostomos" Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece)

Christmas is the birth of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Our Lord became man in order to save the world from death, which entered creation when Adam and Eve transgressed the commandment.

God fashioned man and set him in an earthly paradise located between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (which place, in supreme irony, man has recently turned into hell). But, in the beginning, this paradise was blissful, and the first humans, Adam and Eve, were lords over all nature.

Man, however, was not satisfied with the blessed state God had given him: he wanted to assume the role of God Himself. Egged on by the devil, he dared to taste of the fruit, which God had forbidden him to touch. Instead of receiving the divine immortality he dreamed of, he became subject to death, both physical and spiritual. Spiritual death separated him from God, while physical death separated him from life. God did not create death: man chose it of his own accord.

Man's rebellion against God's will not only destroyed the happiness of the human race, but also the harmony within nature, which thenceforth ceased to be subject to man. This is why the physical world rages against us, a tragedy we may see demonstrated in the recent disaster in South-East Asia. All the wars, injustices and horrors that occur in the world are the result of the rebellion in paradise.
But God did not abandon his creature. In His infinite love He wished to save man; therefore, He sent His Son to take on humanity, only without sin. The incarnate Lord taught man how to regain the bliss of paradise, but the ingrate human race crucified Him on Golgotha. The sacrifice of Christ became our salvation, for He was not conquered by death, as the devil had foolishly expected, but resurrected through his own power. In so doing, he abolished death for all who believe in Him and live in accordance to His will.

During these days, the Orthodox celebrate the incarnation of the Lord. This is a feast of joy, but this year it has been overshadowed by tears and grief over the terrible tragedy in Southeast Asia. As citizens of this country and Greek Orthodox, we pour out our sympathy for our fellow human beings. We beg and entreat God to wipe away the tears from the faces of those who are suffering; to end the injustices and wars; to shelter His Church and all the Greek Orthodox throughout the world and to bless America, where many of us were born. May the new year of 2005 be blessed for all of us and our families.

Many Years!
Metropolitan Pavlos of America