Metropolitan Onuphrius: Can the Nativity Stop Civil Strife, Why Should People Forgive an Offender, and How to Fight Despair

The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church gave an interview to the “Pravoslavnaya Zhizn’” website on the Nativity.

We should look into our soul and realize how responsible we are for current events.

Your Beatiutude, what can each of us do to stop civil strife? Can the Nativity reconcile people?

Each one of us is responsible for what has happened in our country. In the world there exist the spirits of good and evil. When we are filled with evil, this spirit will influence all humanity regardless of where we live: be it in the Ukraine or in Canada. For example, if a person leads a righteous life in Australia, his spirit of righteousness influences all of humanity around the globe. Therefore every person should pray that God might give peace to our Ukraine. All of us together should look into our souls and realize how much I am responsible for what is going on. We should determine the extent of our responsibility before our people and our Motherland. If we will be self-critical, we will find our weaknesses. Then God will hear us.

If we will pray for the entire Ukrainian people, then God will hear our prayer. 

Today many people are spiritually disoriented. People even quarrel with their spiritual fathers about political differences. Enmity is sown not merely among the flock, but also between a pastor and parishioners. How should we behave in such situations? 

Sometimes I hear that today it is already impossible to return to peace. I do not believe that. Perhaps, we will indeed not be able to find the path to reconcile people and return to peace by human reason. But what is impossible with man is possible with God. If we will pray to God and repent of our sins; if we will pray for ourselves, our neighbors, and the entire Ukrainian people, then God will hear our prayers. It is difficult for us to determine when this prayer will be answered. This depends on the intensity of our prayer and on our humility before God. But this prayer will undoubtedly be heard. But we should pray according to the common law that we have: the Lord’s Commandments.

When we bear spiritual fruit to God and neighbor, evil is destroyed 

What is essential for us to embrace the Nativity in our hearts? How to learn to forgive? What is forgiveness – is it reconciliation? 

Evil increases at the time of any strife, rebellions, fratricide, and wars. When a person forgives his offender and loves him, instead of taking revenge on him under the condition of increasing evil, and refuses to pay tooth for tooth and eye for eye, but to do him good, this person extinguishes evil. Revenge does not lessen, but increases evil. Evil was expressed in one strike, but then two strikes occurred. When a person forgives his offender, then world evil eventually diminishes. And this destruction of evil takes place, first of all, when we bear spiritual fruit to God and our neighbor, which according to Apostle Paul is “love, joy, peace, and longsuffering…” 

If sin covers one with the darkness of despair, remember the Bethlehem shepherds and arm yourself with prayer. 

What is your advice for Christians who wish to celebrate the Nativity of Christ in a proper manner? 

Christians, if sin covers you with the darkness of gloom and despair, then remember the Bethlehem shepherds and do not fall asleep or lose heart, but preserve and keep the flock of your thoughts and feelings, arming yourself with humble prayer as much as you can. Urge yourself patiently to go from earthly truth to the truth of God, from the fallen spirit and blighter to the Savior and Our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to become a participant of the Great Day of Christ’s Kingdom, which was born on that Bethlehem night. Know that Christ’s Kingdom does not have an end, but it has become eternal, because the Son of God became the Son of the Virgin and united the Divine nature with the human nature forever. Remember that the doors to Christ’s bright Kingdom do not close ever. 

May these spiritual thoughts strengthen our hearts and support our spirit in the invisible fight that we, God’s rational creatures, should have against sin, which is hidden inside of us and in the world that surrounds us. 

I congratulate you all, dear brothers and sisters, on the world-saving feast of the Nativity of Christ. I wish everyone, with all my soul, goodness, health, and success in all of your undertakings. May God’s peace and His blessing, which the Infant Christ has brought to earth, be always with you and make you stronger against all sinful temptations that we encounter in the modern world. Do not be afraid of anyone or anything. Be only afraid of insulting God with your acts and deeds, Who loved us and sent His Only-Begotten Son into this world, that whosoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life and become a son of His Kingdom.

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