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January 27, 2023

His Highness Ioan Robu, Archbishop and Roman-Catholic Metropolitan Priest of Bucharest: Christmas Letter, 2014

“As Christmas comes, we are turning our eyes to the Birth of Jesus Christ, as it is described in the Gospels.

Saint Luke tells us that “Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David. (…) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2, 4 – 7).

We thus discover that the birth of Mary’s son did not occur in a house, which is a dwelling for people, but in an environment destined to animals. It is a symbol of poverty and humility that accompanied the birth of Jesus, although he was the son of the Heavenly Father, The God of God, the Light of Light, the True God of True God.

Saint Luke also tells us that “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The Prophet Isaiah, who had lived many centuries before, had described the birth of Jesus as if he had been an eye witness. He said: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah, 9, 5) What government? What power was upon the shoulder of a Child who, at the time of his birth, only had above his head a roof and, as a cradle, the manger of animals?

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2, 13 – 14).

These words pronounced by the voices of angels give us the answer to our question: what “government” or power stood upon the shoulder of Baby Jesus? A unique power, the power nobody else but Him has. He is the only one Who has the power to enter the soul of any human with the peace that comes from above. He is the only one who has the power to turn people into God’s children. He is the only one who has the power to rise the history of every human being up to the height of God’s grace. He is the only one!

Therefore, let us remember the words of St. Paul, in his letter to Titus: “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3, 4 – 7) By being born, Jesus brings to this world peace and redemption, grace and hope, mercy and godly love.

The celebration of Christmas deepens the confidence that the Church has inherited these divine gifts brought by Jesus and tells us that it wants to share us all what it was offered: redemption, peace, The Holy Word, merciful love, rebirth and renewal with the Holy Spirit.

As I said other times as well, us, priests, servants of the Church and of God’s nation, are glad when believers approach the Holy Mistery and receive the gift of Redemption, the gift of Faith, the bread of the Word and of forgiving love.

And, as I mentioned the priests, I want to thank them this time as well for the hard work they do every day; not only for visiting the ill or accompanying our deceased brothers on their final path; not only for their patient and self-denying work; but also for their noble loyalty, for enduring suffering and humiliation, for carrying the cross of loneliness and mistakes, for their love of the church, for their love of unity sprung from the Eucharistic food and brotherly love. Thank you, my dear colleagues, for being by my side in our priestly duties, in the fears and worries that visit us, but also in the hopes that caress and strengthen us.

Thank you for your stability, that becomes the future foundation of our parish communities where you will perform your duties.

I would also like to thank the consecrated persons that work at the Archdioceses of Bucharest. We are happy to know that, due to their efforts, a permanent and sacrifice-full work is performed in our parishes, for the benefit of the ones in need, of lonely ones, ill ones and elderly ones. Your work remains a living symbol of devotion and joy, and the headstone of a present and a future of much more love, less egotism, more humanity and more Christianity. Our work in hospitals, kindergartens, schools, print shop, the publishing house, offices, presbyteries, is now fruitful for the present and future, in anything that occurs in Church and in the world, also maintaining the teachings of past history. And therefore, I hopefully think about your example of consecrated persons: your work places in the hearts of all ages the seeds of generosity, sacrifice, devoutness, love and justice. At the time being, these seeds grow and will fruit in the future.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis wished that this year would be dedicated to consecrated life and we are glad to tell you one more time, along the Universal Church, in so many ways, how much we appreciate all of you, of all Church Congregations, Orders and Movements and how much we cherish your presence and activity. Our love and prayer will be with you forever.

Also, at the chapter of gratitude and thanks, I would like to speak out to all of those who form our Church: laypersons of all categories and ages; laypersons known and unknown in all our parishes. We appreciate your nearness and love of the Church, your willingness to support our priestly activities and projects, the education of the future generations that will form our Church of tomorrow on the territory of the Archbishopric.

I thank you all for all your efforts and your sacrifices for the moral and spiritual good of your families and, thus, for the society and the Church. Thank you for your love of the Church and for everything you do to increase the sense of dignity, justice, respect, tolerance, generosity, love and peace in our country.

The good we do today is the only lamp that cannot be put out by any suffering, any storm or by the breath of dead.

I also thank you for being by the side of our priests and being able to see our parishes and churches as places of giving, of advice, of prayer and communion.

And there is one more thing: forgive us for our mistakes.

In front of Jesus, the Baby and Our Lord, all of us, young or old, known or unknown, united in the same holy celebratory joy with other brothers of ours, that are not members of the Catholic Church, should pray these days for the good of each one of us, living here or anywhere else; for peace and material and spiritual prosperity, let us also pray for people who do not pray, let us hope for people who no longer have the power to hope, pray fo the joy of people who do not know how to ask for it from Above. Let us pray that the path of each of us would be serene, even if it remains filled by crosses. Let us bind our prayers to the Pure Virgin Mary and she, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Skies and Earth, will reveal our hopes and wishes to the Baby, so that He can turn them into peace and redemption, grace and hope, mercy and godly love.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

May you live long, happy lives!

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!”




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