In the Christmas Pastoral Letter, Lucian Cardinal Mureșan, Major Archbishop of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic, urges vaccination.
“The church supports the state authorities and the medical staff by praying and urging their sons to be vaccinated and to strictly observe all measures, in order to improve the current situation and prevent its aggravation,” he said.
The Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Cardinal Lucian at the Feast of the Nativity 2021
Dear believers, Christ is born, magnify Him!
God is with us. Emanuel is present in our souls and in our families. The Feast of the Incarnation of the Lord tells us about God who becomes man for men and for the salvation of all mankind, but he also tells us about us.
It is the holy history of Man – God who came to dwell with His people, descending from the high heavens to be Man among men, to rejoice and weep with His brethren, to speak to us of heaven, of the Father, of forgiveness, about love.
To open the gates of Heaven to us, with His life on the brink of death. On this holy night, illuminated by the Eastern Star and comforted by the crystalline voices of the angels, Christians celebrate the Messiah, the Divine Infant, the young Infant lying in the manger.
The ineffable and eternal word of the Father was revealed, incarnated, came into the world as a child in the poverty of the manger, “He truly became man, remaining truly God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 464).
St. Gregory of Nyssa asked: “Why did the divinity descend in such a low state?” […] If the love of humanity is a characteristic of divine nature, it is the reason he sought, the reason for God’s presence in humanity. Our prostrate human nature needed a doctor, the fallen man needed someone to raise him, the one who had lost his life needed the Author of life, the one who had detached himself from the sharing of good needed the One who brings back to good, the light it was necessary for the one imprisoned in darkness, the slave needed a Deliverer, the prisoner of Defense, the man held under the yoke of the slavery of sin by a Redeemer ».
The mystery of the incarnation of the Son makes known to us the Father, as St. Irenaeus teaches us: «The Son, through His manifestation, offers us the knowledge of the Father. In fact, the knowledge of the Father comes from the revelation of the Son. Everything is manifested through the Word. The Father is the invisible reality of the Son, just as the Son is the invisible reality of the Father ».
But the time of waiting and vigilance is not over. The Savior comes to meet us at every moment to enrich us with His grace. The Lord Jesus continues to pour out the grace of His presence upon those who believe in His mercy and goodness, and His manifestation culminates in the final calling when He will make us worthy of the promised reward and the crown of eternity.
In our day and age, we see clearly that the Nativity of God gives us such a different light from the illusory brilliance with which contemporary society entices us. Baby Jesus gives a holy light that is revealed to the hearts of believers.
It is the light of God made man, that light which illuminates the night of history and warms hearts for millennia. Heaven descends to earth, the whole Universe is humanized, the first Liturgy is celebrated in the manger of Bethlehem “for you and for many”, and the whole creation is invited to learn from the humility of the Infant.
By accepting this light, man renews himself, experiences a new life, so different from the banality of an exclusively material experience, a life that springs from the presence of God among men in the person of His Son Jesus of Nazareth.
The birth of the Son changes the calendar and the course of history, it is the most important event of the flow of humanity, being famous by the world of the stars through the way of the Magi, about which the Gospel of the Feast testifies. A symbol of mankind in search, the Magi of the East, these illustrious characters who came from afar to worship the Holy Child, believed, traveled a long way, and found the One sought in Bethlehem, rejoiced and they offered precious gifts to the baby King, humble and hidden: “for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Mt 2: 2).
Beloved brothers and sisters,
The Holy Father Pope Francis invites us to face life and these times of pandemic with the Lord. Without Jesus there is no Christmas. Therefore, we need to put Him at the center of our attention, prayer, and life.
Christmas is a new beginning with Jesus. To live Christmas means to make room for the Savior, to welcome Him into our lives, to let Him accompany us on the pilgrimage of the heart to conversion, to change our behavior, attitude, and life. Because the Kingdom of God is near, it is here, it is right in our midst.
Christmas means stopping and contemplating the Son of God, following the example of St. Joseph. Pope Francis proclaimed on December 8, 2020 the “Year of St. Joseph”, through the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (With the Heart of a Father), on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s proclamation in 1870. St. Joseph patron of the Universal Church.
It is stated in this Apostolic Letter: “Joseph is the man through whom God cares for the beginnings of the history of redemption. He is the true “miracle” with which God saves the Infant and His mother. Heaven intervenes, trusting in the creative courage of this man, who arrives in Bethlehem and finds no home where Mary can give birth, takes care of a stable and prepares it to become as welcoming as possible for the Son of God to come into the world. (cf. Lk 2: 6-7) »(Patris corde, 5). Following the example of St. Joseph, we too are called to strengthen our faith, to understand, and to do God’s will in our lives.
Looking at the figure of St. Joseph, we celebrate the Holy Family, reflecting and contemplating the current situation of the Christian family in social life and in the church community. In this regard, Pope Francis dedicated a year to the whole family, the year “The Amoris Laetitia Family (Joy of Love)”, a special moment to bear witness to the love within the family and to live merciful love.
We feel the need to meet our brothers in a pressing way because of the pandemic that has caused so much suffering, insecurity and loneliness, upsetting everyone’s lives. Beyond the aspects that separate us from our brothers, we are united by the love for those who are on the periphery of existence and who, like the Savior, knock on the closed doors of a society too little concerned with the common good. As the Holy Father puts it, the pandemic “made us understand the importance of ordinary people who, far from the spotlight, exercise their patience every day, inspire hope, and make us understand the importance of shared responsibility.”
In this worrying situation that our country and the whole world are going through, we are with the sick and send a message of encouragement to all: Jesus the Conqueror is our hope! The Church supports the State authorities and the medical staff by praying and urging His sons to be vaccinated and to strictly observe all measures in order to improve the current situation and prevent its aggravation.
The moments of great suffering that our brothers and sisters go through urge us to dedicate ourselves even more to prayer for those who suffer, but also for those who, through their mission, expose their health with devotion and compassion towards others.
At the same time, in full communion with the Holy Father Pope Francis, the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic, marked the opening of the synodal process for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 17, 2021), with the theme “For o Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission ”.
In this sense, I would like to invite you to get involved in the archdiocesan phase, so that, following the consultations, we will have an image of walking together and in our Church. Truly, in the Church we walk not alone, but together with the other brothers, with generosity and humility, as the Holy Father urged us through the motto of the Apostolic Visit to our country in 2019: “Let us go together!”. Together with our brothers, we will be able to go through the hardships and difficulties of life more easily, and we will give a stronger and more credible testimony of the living presence of Christ, and by praying for one another we will find the strength to renew our hearts.
The birth of the baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the “gifted baby,” is a continual manifestation of God’s plan of salvation. Jesus is the Firstborn from a multitude of brethren born not of flesh and blood, but from on high, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Diapers and the manger are the sign of the fullness of the Incarnation, which send us thinking of the sacrifice of the Crucified and given as food for eternal life.
St. Augustine, in one of his speeches, stated: “It is Christmas. Whose? Of the Lord. Does he have a birthday too? Yes, he has too. Does the word that was in the beginning, God with God, have a birthday? Yes, he has too. If He had not been born human, we would not be able to reach the divine rebirth: He was actually born so that we can be reborn. His mother carried Jesus in her womb: let us carry Him in our hearts ».
The joyful proclamation of the long-awaited birth of the Messiah reaches all people through shepherds: they are the first to receive the Good News, they receive the gospel from the angels, being symbols of the shepherds who will feed the sheep and lambs the name of the Supreme Shepherd, to the pastures of life.
As the great theologian Karl Rahner writes so suggestively: “God came out of the immense splendor in which he dwells as God and Lord and came to us. Silence entered the hut of our existence, allowed itself to be seen as a human being. It started where we started, completely poor, threatened in everything, childish and delicate in all respects, completely defenseless. The one who is infinite, the distant future that with our power we could never have reached, came to meet us, came to us, walked with us on the path that leads us to Him ».
Here is the greatness of Christmas that opens us to Easter, a communion of gratitude brought first to God and then to people of good will, to those chosen souls who ignite and maintain hope in a better, wiser and more responsible world for the gift they give. he trusted the Creator.
Together with His Holiness Christian, Auxiliary Bishop, we wish you all a holy and blessed holiday, with health, grace and heavenly blessing!
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia and Făgăraș
Major Archbishop of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek Catholic