Metropolitan Hilarion: May the joy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world live in our hearts always
On January 9th, 2022, on the 29th week after the Pentecost, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.
The Archpastor was joined by the clergy of the church.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, petitions were offered up for deliverance of the coronavirus infection.
After the Litany, Metropolitan Hilarion lifted up a prayer recited at the time of the spread of baneful pestilence.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Archpastor addressed the congregation with the following sermon:
“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
We continue to celebrate the Nativity of Christ and reflect on why the Lord had desired to come into this world in that particular country and at that time, and to come in such an inconspicuous way. The Savior of the world is born on earth - the One Who will reign not over some small Israeli kingdom, but over the whole world, in the hearts of people. Why couldn't His birth have been more solemn, more impressive?
We hear about how some mysterious Magi fr om a distant land came to King Herod, guided by a star. To whom else did they need to turn, if not to him, because he was the ruler of this land. The Magi heard that some king was born, and they came to find out where he was born. But King Herod was alarmed, because this was not at all the heir he expected, not at all the king for whose arrival he was preparing. He cared only for his own power and his own offspring. What kind of King, what kind of Messiah, where did He come from, and why some obscure astrologers came from a distant land, wanting to worship him - all this was unknown to Herod and filled his heart with anxiety and fear. He began to think that his power would be shaken.
In the very nature of the coming into the world of our Lord the Savior - in how He was born, how His earthly life began and how people met Him - we see the struggle between good and evil, between God and the devil, between eternity and this world. This struggle took place both before the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus Christ, and after His birth, and it is continuing to this day.
Earthly rulers take care of their power. They do all kinds of things to preserve this power. They are even ready to commit crimes, just not to lose it. The whole history is filled with examples of rulers who, in order to stay in power, committed lawlessness. And King Herod is far from the only one who committed a crime in order to get rid, as he thought, of his competitor. He decided to exterminate all male babies under two years of age so that one of them would not later become the king of the Jews.
History knows of other such “Herods” who later exterminated adults and children, because they were afraid for their power, afraid that it would be taken away from them. They saw around them either competition, or betrayal, and did not stop before shedding innocent blood. Such was King Herod, and many other rulers who, in different eras and under different circumstances, fought for their power.
The Lord Jesus Christ was pleased to come into this world in obscurity and dishonor: there was not even a place in a hotel for His Most Pure Mother, and He was placed not in a royal cradle, but in a cattle manger.
Let us recall how in different eras in different countries the heirs to the thrones were born. For example, the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon, who is still alive, was born before World War II. When he was born, three-day celebrations were announced all over Bulgaria. In schools, all students increased their grades by one point in honor of the birth of the heir to the throne. When his parents went out to the people, people chanted, everyone was happy that the heir to the throne had appeared. This happened and is still happening in countries wh ere the monarchy existed previously or still exists today.
In the history of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do not see anything like this: no honors, no days off, no benefits for the population. Most people did not notice this event at all. Only the magi noticed, to whom the star showed the way to Christ, and the shepherds, to whom the angels appeared and announced the birth of Lord. And the rest of the world continued to live its own life.
Two thousand years have passed since then. Many people have believed in Christ. For so many, Christ became a sign that changed their whole life. For many, Christ is the main content and the cornerstone of their lives. But there are also a lot of those who do not notice or do not want to notice the Lord Jesus Christ, who is present in the world. They say: “We don't need Him, we can live without Him. We have earthly ideals, earthly kings, earthly rulers, why do we need this Man who was born in obscurity, Who is trying to interfere in our life, offering some kind of commandments. We do not want to keep His commandments, we want to live according to the dictates of our heart.”
The struggle that was revealed at the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continues to this day. As in the times when King Herod fought against Him, so today modern Herods are fighting against Christ: against His presence in schools, in public life, in the lives of people. They want people to forget about Christ altogether. In some European countries, it was even forbidden to say that the Christmas holiday is a holiday dedicated to the birth of Christ. They want it to be just a seasonal holiday. Remember how the New Year was celebrated in Soviet times, but Christmas was forced to be forgotten.
But as the Holy Scripture says, "God cannot be mocked" (Gal. 6:7). The power of God will always overcome the power of the enemy and the power of the devil. And the Lord will always reign in the hearts of those people who wish to see Him as their King.
I heartily congratulate all of you on the feast of the Nativity of Christ. May the joy of the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the world live in our hearts always.”
Then, Christmas carols were performed by the choir of students of the Moscow Theological Academy under the direction of Fyodor Surovtsev for Metropolitan Hilarion and the parishioners of the church on Ordynka.
At the end of the performance, Vladyka heartily thanked the singers for their performance and presented them with memorable gifts.
DECR Communication Service