Thursday, December 28, 2017

Met Siluan (Muci)'s Christmas Message 2017

Spanish original here.

The "Living Manger", Our Unfailing Hope

"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." (Luke 2:10-12)

As we celebrate Christmas, we want to draw near to the manger of Bethlehem with the simplicity and guilelessness of the shepherds as well as with the eagerness and hope of the kings, to receive and worship our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became incarnate for us. 

While unbelievers are scandalized because the Most High is placed in the crib of a manger in the care of His mother, the Virgin Mary, and her betrothed, the righteous Joseph, we believers confess the divine identity of the one born in Bethlehem: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." We likewise recognize that this manger of Bethlehem refers to the immaterial and timeless "manger". That is, the "bosom of the Father", as the Gospel affirms: "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him," with a clear reference to the Son "begotten of the Father before all worlds," in agreement with the confession of our Creed. Between the divine and immaterial manger and the manger of Bethlehem, a third manger is even more noticeable, the "living manger," the manger that we are, each of us as bearers of Christ, marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit and bearing the name that we have, since we are Christians. In the person of the Virgin Mary we have seen this "living manger" in all its reality, splendor and glory as through her the Son of God became incarnate, was conceived, and was born in the cave in Bethlehem.

Through the Virgin and thanks to her, God's providence for humankind became fully manifest. We receive the will of the Father to dwell among us, to live in us, desiring to transform the entire human being who believes in Him and in His "living manger", in a union and communion that express the purpose of His having created us in His image so that we may arrive at being in His likeness. In the manger of Bethlehem, the wall of separation that separates the material from the immaterial, the visible from the invisible, the divine from the human, is broken and a new and unprecedented communion between God and us: the eternal one who is born before all the ages desires to unite Himself with those who believe in Him and do His will. "We are His house," according to the Apostle Paul. Therein lies the whole proclamation of the Gospel of our hope, a hope given that will not be taken away from us, if we work to realize it, to cultivate it, and to stand firm in it.

Although in Christmas visiting family predominates, the exchange of greetings and gifts is prevalent, and the need for rest and peace is emphasized, nevertheless our closeness to the manger of Bethlehem does not permit us to trade our eternal hope for an ephemeral one, to live as if the wall of separation that Christ broke continues to be present and effective in our life. Tearing down this wall of separation that excludes God from our heart and separates us from our neighbor is the mission that we undertake as Christians in order to live Christmas in its most authentic and substantial sense. It is a gestation that we realize day by day, in a commitment of perseverance until the end, which will culminate in our transformation into "living mangers", so that we can say with the Apostle Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

There is no doubt that this gestation is the most precious offering that we can bring to the One who was cradled in the manger of Bethlehem, as well as to those who are created in His image, especially to the members of our family and parish, to our fellow Argentine citizens, to our brothers in the Middle East, and to all the world. Let us listen, then, as as a sign of the culmination of our gestation, to the angels in heaven singing once more the Christmas hymn: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

Merry Christmas!

Metropolitan of Buenos Aires and All Argentina 

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