Patriarch Kirill: There should be no orphans in Russia
Millions of worshippers across Russia have gathered for Christmas midnight masses on January 6 evening. The Orthodox Church still lives according to the old Julian Calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar adopted by the catholic church, and for all official purposes worldwide.
As parishioners were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Patriarch Kirill addressed the Orthodox community with words of peace and joy, paying special attention to the issue of adoption:
My dear friends, good tidings to you as we celebrate the Birth of Christ!
Every year during this holiday season we try to comprehend the meaning of Christmas and we can truly say that we are getting close to a mystery. The mystery of the birth of God. The mystery of God entering human history. John Chrysostom put it beautifully, "God became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. He whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive." Truly, the God who is not contained by the Universe, the Creator of the world and every form of existence, becomes one of us, enters human history as flesh and blood.
From the very beginning, people responded differently to this incredible event. Some welcomed Him with joy, hope, and love – like the shepherds in Bethlehem, the wise men from the East, those who were near the Savior – The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph. I am sure there were other people who opened their hearts to the Baby, who was miraculously born in a manger in Bethlehem.
But there were also those who rejected Christ right away. Those who refused to provide shelter for Mary and Joseph, didn't find room for them. They didn't want to invite into their homes these strangers, they didn't want to be bothered or inconvenienced by them. The couple could've pushed them or their other guests out. Yet others were challenged by the birth of our Savior. He was a threat to their power, their influence, and most importantly – their sinful ways.
Little has changed in the past 2000 years. There are still two groups of people in the world – those who welcome the Savior with joy, dedicate their lives to Him, submit their hearts and minds to Him, and find peace, comfort, joy and meaning in Him.
And there are still those who cannot accept the Savior, because it would mean changing everything, rejecting some ideas that are important to them. Sometimes accepting Christ requires more than just agreeing with the concept and the fact of His incarnation. You have to change your life, and many people are not ready to make that change.
Throughout its history the Church has dealt with both kinds of people. Those who don't accept Christ are not enemies of the Church. They are also our brothers and sisters, and the Lord came for them as well. Christians and the Church have to help those who don't think they can believe and accept Jesus do just that – believe and accept. With all their heart they should realize that the Lord came because of them.
There is one more lesson to be learned from the story of Jesus Christ’s birth and its circumstances. If shepherds, ordinary people, welcomed the Lord, doesn’t it mean that now, too, we should look for Him not among the rich or the powerful, but among the weak and the poor? That’s why our Lord tells his followers that if they want to be part of the Kingdom of God they should help the sick, visit prisoners, share resources with the needy – the handicapped, the elderly, and the little ones.
Today, on this wonderful holiday, I'd like to pay special attention to the problems of children. In our country, many kids don't have parents, even if their biological parents are alive. It is very important that our people adopt orphans into their families – happily and with a sense of gratitude towards God – not only to feed them and raise them, but to share love.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” says the Lord. These words from Him should make us realize how important the little ones are in God's eyes. And while we celebrate Christ's birth I would like to ask you: If you can take this important step – go ahead and adopt a child, help an orphan. There should be no orphans in our country. The children who have no parents have to find new families in kind, honest, warm-hearted people.
May the blessing of God dwell upon all of you to strengthen you on the path of your life as a Christian. And if you are still on the way to comprehending the mystery of Jesus' birth and knowing God, I wish you success in this difficult journey of salvation, the journey to the true meaning of life which we find in the incarnation of Christ the Savior.
Again, good tidings to you as we celebrate the birth of Christ, and may the blessing of God dwell upon all of us.