“Despite all the alienation and desolation that threatens us, the unique event, the birth and the presence of the Son and Word of God, always dominates the celebration of Christmas. Christ does not come as a visitor to greet us politely and then quietly leave. He comes to stay with us” said among other things Archbishop Anastasios of Albania in his Christmas message.
The Archbishop of Albania also pointed out: “In this atmosphere of strange isolation imposed by the pandemic, on loneliness, anxiety and fear, let us resist, my brothers, celebrating this Christmas with a focus mainly on the redemptive presence of the Son and Word of God, who maintains the last word in the course of our life and the whole of creation”.
Archbishop Anastasios emphasized as well: “The most essential Christmas gift, my brothers, that we can offer to ourselves and those around us is the awareness and testimony of the presence of the Savior Christ in our daily course.”
Read below the Message of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania:
This year we will celebrate Christmas without external celebrations, without large family or friendly gatherings, but even without the universal participation of the faithful in worship events. At the same time, however, the restrictions, due to the pandemic, will have some positive side effects. Above all, it is an opportunity for the faithful to appreciate the enormous importance of the self-evident in our spiritual and social life; the ability to go whenever we decide to the holy temples, to pray, to participate in worship services, in the holy sacraments of the Church. This time is another kind of spiritual “fasting”, imposed by external conditions.
This year, we will celebrate with simplicity, deprivation but also pain for those who died alone and for those who survived in sorrow and embarrassment, suffering from various difficulties.
Despite all the alienation and desolation that threatens us, the unique event, the birth and the presence of the Son and Word of God, always dominates the celebration of Christmas. Christ does not come as a visitor to greet us politely and then quietly leave. He comes to stay with us. This is indicated by the name Emmanuel, which means “With us is God”. He does not come as a tyrant, to take away our freedom by imposing his will. He comes as an infant sharing deprivation, exile and with an invisible smile of peace and hope he comes to stay with us. He will face trials, insults, hostilities, which will culminate in the Passion, participating in the suffering of humanity. He comes to stay with us, contested and persecuted, to support us, to comfort us with his resurrection promise: “And, behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). He is with us not only in the peaceful phases of success, good health and harmonious relationships with others. He remains secretly with us even in the murky times, when sadness, failure, illness strain our existence.
Above all, this decisive presence must be conscious and continuous in the formation and control of our thoughts, ideas, decisions and actions. We cannot ask for Him to be present in the difficult hours of our lives and be indifferent to his will or ignore it in our mentality and behavior in our daily lives. The constant awareness of his presence is the only one that can lead us correctly to the adventures of our life.
This time, we are called to live this multifaceted presence more intensely, with less arrogance for our human knowledge, abilities and power, looking more for human priorities and solidarity locally and globally and with more hope. It is symbolic that the vaccine, which is expected to provide a way out of our multifaceted coronavirus captivity, comes into our lives as a peculiar Christmas present.
In this atmosphere of strange isolation imposed by the pandemic, on loneliness, anxiety and fear, let us resist, my brothers, celebrating this Christmas with a focus mainly on the redemptive presence of the Son and Word of God, who maintains the last word in the course of our life and the whole of creation.
In the indefinable, unexpected loneliness that freezes us, the secret presence of Christ warms the mind and enlivens the lungs. This optimistic Christmas message, pure as a diamond, without a variety of ornaments, gold dust and impressive wrappers, must be especially highlighted and experienced this year. Not as a mere memory of a lovable infant, but as a decisive message of hope, as the only expression of love, of the omnipotence of the Father, Lord and Creator of the universe, as a guarantee that we are not alone in our personal and global adventure or during this recent pandemic.
We must not only reinforce this crucial experience within ourselves but transmit it as spiritual antibodies to those around us with affection, humility, speech, silence and without provocative conceit. It is not just the coronavirus that is transmitted silently and actively. Much more, faith in this redemptive presence is transmitted calmly and effectively from a faithful person to a person and from one group to another.
Therefore, the most essential Christmas gift, my brothers and sisters, which we can offer to ourselves and those around us, is the awareness and testimony of the presence of the Savior Christ in our daily course.
Blessed Christmas with lasting health!
May the New Year 2021 be peaceful and full of light.