STOCKHOLM – On the Sunday before Christmas, December 18, 2022, His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia presided over the Divine Liturgy in chorostasia at the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm.
At the conclusion of the eucharistic gathering, the Metropolitan delivered a sermon to the faithful, analyzing the Gospel reading of the day, which featured the genealogy of Jesus’ ancestors.
In his sermon, among other things, Metropolitan Cleopas noted the following: “What could this list of Hebrew names mean? For the Jews, it fulfilled the necessity to reinforce the lineage of the Messiah from David, while for humanity throughout the ages, it refers to the Divine Logos’ taking on of the entirety of human nature, which had been marred by Adam and Eve’s fall and sin.
After all, the Lord’s ancestors were confronted by sin and at the same time, their souls were burdened by original sin. Included among the names listed in the Lord’s genealogy are murderers, adulterers, and those guilty of incest. The reason for this is so that no one may be excluded from the salvation that God would bring to the world. He who is sinless comes and deigns to shoulder the burden of all our sins, to save us from the dominion of sin.
After fashioning so many idols, after worshipping creation instead of the Creator, modern man, tired and discouraged, sets out once again from the start to find the path and goal of his true nature which existed before time. In other words, he sets out in search of God.
The feast of the Lord’s Nativity helps us realize that the true path that enables man to find himself alongside God once again is the Birth of our Savior.
Let us recall the words of the Gospel: “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). God becomes man to show us the path that leads to theosis, so that we may become ‘gods by grace,’ as the Fathers of the Church explain.”
At the end of his sermon, Metropolitan Cleopas welcomed 23 members from the youth group of the “Euxeinos Pontos” Pontian Society of Stockholm, who, accompanied by lyre player Mr. Ch. Xanthopoulos, sung traditional Pontian Christmas carols for the congregation.
Metropolitan Cleopas addressed the young carolers as follows. “During today’s liturgy, after speaking about the spiritual preparation we must undergo to welcome ‘the pre-eternal God as a young child,’ we have the distinct pleasure of welcoming our sons and daughters from the ‘Euxeinos Pontus’ Pontian Society of Stockholm to the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm. They came with their parents and members of their society to bring us some Christmas tidings through the Pontian traditions.
And since we are talking about the Greeks of Pontus, our thoughts naturally turn to the northern shores of Asia Minor, where the history of a people began and unfolded across the centuries, starting with mythology, continuing with the philosophers, and the rearing of distinguished scholars, merchants, men and women of the letters and arts, as well as saints, such as Evgenios of Trabizond and Gregory of Neocaesaria, while also giving rise to historic monasteries like those of Panagia Soumela, St. John Vazelon, and St. George Peristereotas.
As a People and Nation, we are grateful to the Hellenism of Pontus, which, despite the terrible suffering and challenges it faced, managed to retain its national identity and Orthodox faith unadulterated, and to convert the pain of displacement into creativity and ingenuity, breathing new life into the Mother Church and entire world.
Speaking to the youth, the board of directors, and the members of the Pontian Society, I pray that our Lord, who took on flesh as an infant, may bless the work of this Society, luminate our children, and show us worthy, wherever we may find ourselves, to confess the name of our Incarnate Lord and never forget our customs, traditions, and roots. I thank you for your presence here today, and for your moral and financial support for the vision of our local Church. I congratulate you and extend my paternal blessings to you, with all my love.”
A reception in honor of the Pontian youth of Stockholm followed at the Museum of Hellenic Christian Heritage, where Mdmes. Fotini Batsela and Tania Svedberg offered sweets to the youth, while Metropolitan Cleopas, together with the parish priest Very Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Bartholomew Iatridis handed out Christmas gifts to the guests and exchanged holiday wishes.
Facebook link to Metropolitan Cleopas’ homily & Pontian Carols https://fb.watch/huHgkeRcb3/