Most Reverend and Reverend Bishops!Clergy, Religious, and Laity
Peace in the Lord!
Dearly beloved in Christ! With God’s help, we have lived to this year’s feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. On this occasion, so solemn and joyful, I wish to greet all of you - to greet those who celebrate this occasion in their homeland, to greet those who live in places where our Church has its own developed structure, and to greet those who are residing where there is no formal presence of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Whatsoever the circumstances of your life may be, I sincerely greet all of you!
I ask those of you who are blessed with the opportunity to sit together with your whole family for this Holy Supper to thank the Lord for this great gift, and at the same time to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who are separated by long distances and forced to celebrate Christmas far from their homes. Perhaps such a separation is only a temporary necessity, but, particularly on Christmas Eve, we feel the drama of this situation and tears fill our eyes. What can dry these tears is perhaps hope for a quick change.
We have the tradition to leave a place at the Christmas Eve table for those who do not have anyone with whom they can share this meal, forced by circumstance to be far from their loved ones. On this Holy Christmas Eve, we will remember you, dearly beloved in Christ, in a special way.
What would I most want to wish all of you from the depth of my heart? Inasmuch as Christ’s nativity in its essence, liturgical formula, and age-old traditions is considered the greatest family holyday, it should at the same time be a season when we think of one another, pray for one another, and, if need be, help one another. If we expand the understanding of Christ’s feast to all the members of our Church and people, then we will find ourselves sharing in one large family in Christ the Lord. I say in Christ the Lord because it is His coming and residing among us which gives all our earthly ties particular meaning, lifts up and changes them, contrary to all which, because of human limitations and frailty, stands in opposition to this sense of familial unity. The world in which there is no God, which throws away the newly-born Child, cannot reach such heights and is forced to remain in the mire of impatience and hate. And so, today as our lips proclaim the greeting “Khrystos Rozdayet’sya” - “Christ is Born,” may this be a great act of faith of our hearts that all of us are children of God, members of one family, and that there is no power which can force us to sow enmity between one another.
I sincerely greet you, dear brothers and sisters!
Kyiv, 4 December 2006 www.ugcc.org.ua