Posted: 07.01.2023 10:28:00

Christmas message of Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus

Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus has addressed beloved archpastors, pastors, monastics and all faithful children of the Belarusian Orthodox Church

Once again, we listen with trepidation to the angelic words announcing the greatest event in the history of mankind: ‘Today a Saviour has been born to you in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11).

Each of us is witnessing today the fulfilment of ancient prophecies about the salvation of man and, together with St. Gregory the Theologian, is comprehending the mystery of the Saviour’s coming into the world: ‘Those bodiless incarnate… Those invisible become visible, those intangible become tangible, and those timeless receive a beginning. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man’.

God's love for humanity is so great that he did not just send prophets and judges to him, through whom he taught the commandments, but gave ‘his one and the only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Therefore, the words previously unheard of by the world – proclaimed by the Apostle John the Theologian: ‘God is love’ – are not the fruit of theological speculation. They were attested by the Saviour’s birth, his earthly life and public ministry, his preaching and miracles, death on the Cross and Resurrection.

That is why our hearts are filled with such unspeakable joy and spiritual exultation today. The Son of God entered our world and united himself with man forever and ever, becoming like us in everything except sin, giving us the joy of eternal life, fullness of being with God: ‘Let the bound Adam be resolved, freedom is given to all the faithful, to the Saviour who is being led by you’ (Pre-celebration. Canon). And, according to St. Hilarion of Kiev, mankind is no longer bent over under the burden of the law, but ‘instead walks freely in grace’.

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’ (Luke 2:14). These angelic words have sounded as a promise and as a call for more than two thousand years – a call to create the Kingdom of Heaven in our soul, to keep peace and love between people. Sometimes it seems to us that little depends on us, that everything in our history is decided by ‘the power players’. The Lord was born not in royal palaces, but in a simple cave. He was laid in a manger for cattle and thereby showed that ‘God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Concerns about daily bread, well-being and the public good are undoubtedly important and need our involvement while we live on the earth. However, this is not the basis of a person's true life. No matter how much people try to resolve social contradictions and build a harmonious society, efforts will not bear good fruit until there is peace in the human soul.

This peace is achieved by fighting sin and unrighteousness in our heart, doing good deeds and being merciful to those who are near us. This is the source of good changes in all spheres of human existence, and the Lord – through the apostle – calls us: ‘Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony’ (Col. 3:14).

Therefore, daily and constant good deeds are so important, even if they do not seem to us something significant and great. They make up what attracts the grace of God to our land and our people, and builds a solid foundation for family, social and personal life.

Bearing this in mind, let us fill our lives with gratitude to God, joy about his great benefaction and works of mercy, under no circumstances will we become discouraged and sad. Let us be a source of peaceful and pious spirit for everyone around us.

Dear brothers and sisters! While congratulating all of you on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year, I prayerfully wish that your hearts would be filled with bright joy for the Lord who was born, that peace and harmony would be present in every home, family, in our Fatherland and beyond. I wish you good health, God's help in all your work, and may every day of your life be illuminated by the light of the star of Bethlehem.