“And they were terrified…But the angel said to them:
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
He is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Lk. 2:10-11)
Most Reverend Fathers, Deacons, Monks and Nuns,
Brother Seminarians, and Dearest Faithful,
Simple shepherds who tended their flocks near Bethlehem lived their usual lives. They did not expect much change in the routine of their daily chores, and they "were keeping the night watch over their flock." This was their work, this was their vocation, ordinary and unremarkable.
However, everything suddenly changed when they saw an angel of the Lord who “appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them." Being in this glory caused them a sense of terror so great that the angel himself had to reassure them and thereby change this "great fear" into "great joy."
We all started this passing year of 2022, with the usual worries and plans that we made for the end of the pandemic. We wanted to resume our usual lives again and no longer expected any disruptions but wanted only to " keep watch " of our own affairs and responsibilities again. But that fateful day of February 24th suddenly changed all our lives, all our plans, all our feelings, everything... A full-scale invasion began...
Fear, pain, despair, and immense anger - all this filled our being, our thoughts, even our prayers. Our native Ukrainians were torn apart and killed... None of us, even in our wildest dreams, could have thought that we, the latest generation, would once again experience the great Baturyn massacre, but also now in Hostomel, Bucha, and Irpin; let us reflect on the evacuation of peaceful people under fire - not from Hitler's Nazis - but from brain washed Putinists. We were driven to righteous anger by a fight to the death of the newest heroes of Kruty near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Bakhmut...
We were afraid of the "great terror" of our native land. But when we all stood together, united as a great Ukrainian community, suddenly we heard a voice from Heaven: "Do not be afraid, Ukrainians, do not be afraid, you inhabitants of the fertile land I have bestowed upon you. You stood together against the opposing enemy, small and large. Don't be afraid!"
Our men came to the defense of Ukraine, women secured the rear with their work and prayers, Ukrainians abroad collected the necessary means for the fight all over the world, even children raised funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine through their own talents – indeed, a community of democratic nations and freedom-loving people came to the aid of the courageous Ukrainian people.
And we are no longer afraid because we see that the Lord is with us and today his angel announces great joy for the whole nation: "... for unto you today, a Savior was born." God comes to us!
Jesus is born in a manger, in the midst of unsanitary conditions, and He knows what suffering and cold are. The Lord comes to the most needy and becomes a refugee Himself, because He is forced to flee from death with the righteous Joseph and Mary. Jesus knows what it is to lose one's home and to be a wanderer without knowing when the mistrust will come to an end. That is why He is today, like never before, close to Ukrainians, He is with us in a distant foreign land and in the homes without light and heat in Ukraine. He is with us as we live through our difficulties and challenges. God is with us...
Jesus knows the experience of the cross and death, loneliness, and rejection. Christ is with us in times of shelling and the danger of repeated enemy attacks on native towns and villages. Jesus is with us, He will lead us through this field of suffering and death, and even more than that, He is the Conqueror of death and the Giver of Life.
He loves His people, and for the sake of this love, He became incarnate, became one of us, was born of the Most Holy Theotokos, and went to His suffering and the cross to save and redeem us all from death, sin, and the power of the devil.
Looking at the Christ Child, laying in the manger, we also see His Cross. Because only by looking at the Cross of the Lord, will we be able to overcome all fear, suffering, and death with Him in order to reach victory, because Jesus Himself is our victory.
"May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way!"
(2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Christ is born! Let us glorify Him!
Archbishop of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
Head of the Department of External Church Relations, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
+Paul (Chomnycky), OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+Benedict (Aleksiychuk), author
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan (Danylo)
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma