Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all Albania
At Christmas, the great feast of the coming of the Son and Word of God to the oikoumene, we reflect upon the amazing initiative of God the Father for the reconciliation with the human race. In His infinite love He “has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9) that He might join the human race with Himself by becoming its member – as Theanthropos.
The new reality created by the coming of Christ is a new collective entity, the “Church”. Christians are not isolated religious individuals. We belong to a blessed community, we are the living cells of a spiritual body, the Church, which has Christ as her head. In opposition to disputes and polarizations, which naturally appear in a living organism, the God given gift “self-healing”, the inner power of healing of every body, is reconciliation. Generally, this is the therapeutic process in times of crisis, animosity, and discord, and is necessary for social cohesion and the peaceful coexistence of persons, of communities, and of peoples.
At a time when divisions, tensions, and conflicts afflict our world, we celebrate Christmas more essentially by participating, insofar as possible for us, in efforts for reconciliation in our immediate environment; in our professional, social, ecclesiastical, and political life. Reconciliation is constantly threatened by egocentrism in its various manifestations; stubbornness, rage, vindictiveness. The way in which the Son and Word of God, the meek and humble, entered human history determines the way in which egocentrism is overcome. A basic precondition for reconciliation remains forgiveness; the strongest expression of the power of love. The Incarnate Word, Christ, insisted that we repeat “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”. Forgiveness sustains and vivifies solidarity, the harmonious coexistence of every social entity.
In order to contribute to reconciliation, we must be reconciled with ourselves – with our conscience, with our potentialities, our limits – with the destination of our lives. It is imperative that we continually struggle, through Divine grace, to be at peace “among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:13).
Before all else, our reconciliation with God is needed, with His will and His commandments, as defined in the Holy Scripture. Then, with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, we will discover that: “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). The Apostle Paul, based upon his own experience, declares: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). And elsewhere: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18).
The Coming one in the world the Son and Word of God, especially during this festal period, asks us to participate in His own work, which began at the manger and is completed on the Cross. To move towards a true reconciliation with Him, with ourselves, and with our fellow human beings, so that we can cooperate towards a general reconciliation, which eschatologically aims at the recapitulation of “all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10).
Contemplating with gratitude the goodwill of God that we celebrate at Christmas and participating in the “ministry of reconciliation” that began with His Birth in our world, we will become worthy to sing consciously together with the Angels “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
A Blessed Christmas, a peaceful New Year with vivifying hope and ceaseless solidarity in the unexpected tribulations of life.
With wholehearted love in Christ,
Who has “given us the ministry of reconciliation”,