Patriarchal Message for Christmas 2003 (English)
Ref. No. 672
BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA TO ALL THE FAITHFUL OF OUR CHURCH, GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY FROM OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST WHO WAS BORN BY THE THEOTOKOS
My beloved children in Christ,
The birth of Jesus Christ is once again before us and is our reason for celebration, an occasion of glory and joy, and a day of exaltation and rejoicing that brings forth heavenly gifts and divine blessings. ‘He, who is uncontainable’ is born of the Virgin Lady and enters the history of the world. The Creator of the World takes on the form of creation: ‘But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.’ (Galatians 4:4-5).
The birth and incarnation of the Son of God occurred only once resulting in the union and communion of God with humanity and creation. The state and place of mankind was radically transformed when the Only Begotten Son of God, in the person of Jesus Christ incarnate became the Son of Man.
This is the mystery of the Divine dispensation. This is the magnitude of God’s condescension! This is the consequence of Divine Grace. What logic can comprehend the magnitude of this mystery? Who can understand and relate to this God/Man duality? How can we possibly comprehend the supreme mystery of He who is uncreated taking on the form of the created?
He who was expected by the Prophets puts on human nature and is witnessed by the Divine apostles. This unique instance of co-existence of the Divine and human nature in one hypostasis in the person of Jesus Christ motivates all the Martyrs, Apologists, Confessors, Fathers, Teachers of our Faith, the Ascetics and every spirit made perfect through faith towards holiness. As the Church grows the inheritance of the Incarnate Word becomes accessible. His presence creates an impulse to constantly move forward with purpose giving humanity a burning desire to bear witness to it while the Church proceeds towards its eschatological fulfillment.
The Incarnation of the Logos, brings into history He who existed before all time to guide humanity to a deeper meaning of life which is the ontological fulfillment. Our renewal in Christ within the Body of the Church constantly reveals the journey towards perfection. So the fullness of the Body implies and presupposes the Re – Creation of history where the Incarnate God takes upon himself, as St Ignatius of Antioch states, ‘ all human flesh and all creation’.
Under this concept our predecessor St. Athanasius the Great (4th Century Alexandrian Theologian, the resplendent interpreter of Alexandrian Theology which decisively formed our understanding, belief in and of the Incarnated Logos) says: ‘Against Arians 3:10’ ‘For You (God) are and made us according to Your Image and we became the Image and Glory of God but, then not primarily for us, but first and foremost, for the enslaved image in us and for the true Glory of God which is his Word did He become man. The secondary purpose of His Incarnation was for us ……… thus we have the Grace of this calling (that God became man so that man could become god)
Beloved children in Christ,
The freedom of human nature from the bondage of death and corruption is offered bountifully to everyone who approaches the Lord’s glorious and humble cave of Bethlehem. Here the Ever Virgin Theotokos is the Lord’s throne and is venerated by Joseph together with the Shepherds, the Wise Men, the natural world and all the heavens. Since then the angelic hymn of peace serenely exhorts and entreatingly beseeches us to be mindful of our neighbour and fellow man. As a result in this present life, which was honoured by the Messiah, through a unifying joy and a united Church contributes, to the world.
From the Holy See of St. Mark the Apostle and Evangelist and the Great City of Alexandria we extend our paternal and patriarchal blessings to all faithful children of our glorious Patriarchate of Alexandria. Let us pray for peace in the world and that mankind work to renew all creation through the Divine Image of Christ so that we may enjoy all the earthly and heavenly gifts generously bestowed on us by God.
With the love of the Son of God who was born of the Virgin Mary,
+ PETROS VII
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria