Христос Рождається! Christ is Born!
Christmas, thebirth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, is really central to the life of our churchand indeed, to Ukraine and its culture.
In one way it gives meaning to our Christian faith, but it also defines us as people.
Christmas is thefulfilment of a promise made to humanity, after the fall of Adam and Eve in theGarden of Eden, that we would be saved from the sins of the disobedience andrejection of God by our original parents. God promised to send us a saviour. Hesent us His Son who was born in a very modest setting, in order to show us thatGod, through Jesus Christ is Divine and yet one of us.
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Ukrainians have always understood this, and have used the Christmas story to create a uniquelybeautiful cultural identity. Ukraine and its church has a culture which repeatsthis religious truth for all to experience and live.
Yet, many people may question what the Christmas story means to us, our faith and our life today. It is relevant in 2019? How are the church and people of faith, living the meaning of Christmas in our modern times?
These are interesting questions. As it happens, the Bishops’ Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church had for its main theme in 2018, the Word of God (Sacred Scriptures) and Catechesis. Last November our “Vibrant Parish” committee comprised of delegates from around the world explored the same theme as well.
The Word of God is our hope, our strength andour faith in our future life.
It seems to me that in these two latest meetings of our church, the Christmas story continues to come to life in our time.
Christmas, is preciselythe fulfulment of the Word of God (Bible). It is about God speaking years ago, in Bethlehem, and to us today. The Word of God is our hope, our strength andour faith in our future life.
Mary, Joseph, the shepards, the angels, the wise men, and even Herod wanted to know the wordof God. Most wanted to celebrate it. Herod wanted to use it for his ownneeds.Those who believe the Word of God as a personal message want to and needto share it. The Word of God cannot be kept quiet. It is too strong, toopowerful. It must be shared. The witnesses of the first Christmas are the first catechists.
Our church today is challenging us to study the Word of God, be invigorated by it and then to share it in our homes, streets andchurches.
Ukrainian Christmas is exactly that. Look at the Christmas Eve supper, church services, caroling etc. Are we not all totally involved in Christmas? Are we not overjoyed by it? We take time off, wevisit, we share gifts. We celebrate. And so it should be.
Christ is Born. Let us praise Him.
+Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM.
Eparch for Ukrainian Catholics inAustralia, New Zealand andOceania