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Christmas in the Holy Metropolis of Corfu

His Eminence, the Bishop of Corfu, Paxos and the Diapontian Islands, Mr. Nektarios, officiated on Christmas morning, Saturday, December 25, 2021, at the Holy Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos Spilaiotissis. In a short address to the faithful, Mr. Nektarios thanked the faithful who declared with their presence their love for our Lord Jesus Christ who changed with his birth the run of history and humanity. Man remains irreconcilable in the presence of God. These are the days when atheist people believe that with their war they can humiliate a God who has been reduced and humiliated in order for man himself to grow up. A man in a responsible position in the state today dared to insult Christ and the Virgin Mary and has not been condemned. The Church has learned from the insults. God does not need to defend ours. He invites us all to ascend to heaven, having descended from heaven to earth. So we will endure. Let the light of peace, of love, of justice which emanated from the god-dwelling cave of Bethlehem dispel the darkness of human cruelty.

Before the Holy Communion, Mr. Nektarios’s message to the clergy and the people was read, which is as follows:

My dear fathers and fellow people, my beloved children in the Lord,

“The ruler of the world does not renovate man, paradoxically, only with some of his external energy, but He takes him in and embraces him. And it does not only correct and provides a new basis for the human nature, but He surrounds it in an indescribable way and unites and identifies with it. Both God and human are born at the same time from a woman, of course, so that He may take the nature which He himself created and the one which the cunning one with his advice stole from Him” (Saint Gregory Palamas).

The paternal speech comes to show again the innumerable love of God and the purpose of His incarnation: to take back the nature that He created, that is, the man as body and soul, to heal us by giving us eternity, making us overcome decay and death. We as people, are built creations. We are created in the image of God and as a result by the divine actions. But God did not create us perfect and immortal, because such a thing would
abolish our freedom. In other words, we would not have the choice to choose between becoming
gods by grace with the help of God and our relationship with Him, as it is expressed by keeping His commandments, to try to be perfect by ourselves, that is, by gods, by ourselves. And this is the dilemma from the beginning of our existence and our entry into time and the world given by God. It would be convenient to have perfection and immortality from the beginning. But such a thing would invalidate the way in which God exists, as freedom and as love, where he respects everyone and everything.

We as humans choose our own will. Devil, Temptation aids to this, in trusting only ourselves and become totally independent in front of God and then, in front of our fellow humans. Because a person who chooses to make his/her “ego” god, does not care about his/her fellow man. He/She uses it for his/her own needs and for his/her own interests. Little by little, they become spiritually dead and even if they search for God, they cannot see Him. Because, how can the created understand the Creator? For this reason, God who has never ceased to love us, even though we deny him, becomes in the person of Jesus Christ, perfect human and Word, in everything apart from sin, apart from that is the disobedience, the choice of our own will. In other words, He is surrounded with our nature in a way that no human mind can conceive and is born as a perfect God and a perfect man together, taking His flesh from the Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary.

From now on, a new beginning can take place for the humanity and for each one of us separately.  It is not the death, both physical and spiritual that tortures us, but we get a chance of rebirth, to hold on from God’s love, to meet our fellow people, to fight in obedience to the commands of God, to respond in His love and let Him make us gods by grace, as we were created and with the resurrection of the bodies to live the fullness of joy, of holiness, of eternity together with Him and with our fellow human beings!

A glorious feast, a feast of great joy, as the angel declared to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. ”(Luke 2:10). Let us keep this declaration of joy in our hearts again, in an age of frustration over human’s inability to achieve what his temptation promises him: to solve like a god all his problems, with the means on earth, science, technology, information and communication. Death continues to torture the one who does not hope in God. The one who thinks he/she exists only for him/her self, the individual, to take advantage of what the civilisation has to offer as perceived success. The one who does not choose love for his fellow people, the willingness to limit his/her own will, the belonging in God’s body, that is the Church, in order to experience the joy addressed to everyone: the fact that we can be reborn if we make our heart and existence God’s home.

Let this year’s Christmas be a chance to return to God, to meet Him in the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Communion of the Church, not to simply enjoy the temporary material delights and to truly repent and find a new hope in our lives!

Merry Christmas, my fellow people! Peace and love in your hearts, your families and your lives! Christ is born! Truly He is born!

After the Divine Liturgy, Mr. Nektarios visited the Foundation for the Chronically Suffering People of the Holy Metropolis “I PLATYTERA” and exchanged wishes with the inmates and the management.

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