Message for Nativity 2021
With God's Mercy
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
My brethren, the pastors of the Holy Church of Antioch
And my children wherever present in this Holy See
From the darkness of the cave, the child Jesus opens his eyes to the darkness of our present world. From the cave’s dark heart, the heart of light beats with love for the people Whom He came for. On the straw of the manger, the Virgin gave nativity to her newborn, Whose throne angels tremble before. From the darkness of the cave, He appears to the darkness of age, waiting for His coming. He appears to humanity whose thresholds of time have reclined, anticipating the coming of the Lord of time. From the darkness of the cave, He appears to a world where He did not even have an actual home. From the darkness of the cave, He appears to the darkness of ages to brighten it with angelic grace and peace. From the darkness of the cave, her child appears to the severe cold of humanity that is begging for the warmth of love. From the darkness, He fixes His eyes in the eyes of the Virgin and extends through her the means of consolation to the heart of humanity thirsting for His divine consolation.
From the humbleness of the manger, a child emerges with a name that covers the simplicity of our world. From the humbleness of the manger, Christ rejected the adorned thrones of glory, to adorn hearts with glory needy of Him. From the humbleness of the manger, a child lies down in the manger of hearts, to illuminate the darkness of caves with its life-giving light. From the humbleness of the manger, “the God of peace and the father of mercies,” provides peace to souls who were perplexed in the cross of misery and longed for the simplicity of the cave.
That child gazes at each one of us. From His eyes, peace to the pure Virgin, the pride of us, created humans. From His eyes, a sparkle breaks our sorrows and a consolation heals our wounds. From His eyes, a light sweeps away the tyranny of darkness, and a vision eradicates the power of tyranny. From His eyes might crushes the empty might of humankind, and peace breaks the drums of war. From His heart, a balm comforts the wounded and calms the anxious. From His heart we nurture hope, and from His smile, we draw hope, and from His icon, we derive the chrism of salvation, and from His cross the dawn of resurrection.
He appeared during days that witnessed more misery than our days. Our ancestors knew Him in a period of time that was way more severe. They planted Him as the Lord in the mountains, cities, and villages. They engraved His cross in heart and stone alike. They witnessed Him as God of love and embraced Him as God of salvation. They dug the seal of His Gospel in their hearts and dug it in the grooves of their eastern monasteries, churches and, cemeteries. They raised Him on their bells as a banner of pride, and they installed Him in their souls as an offering of love, testimony, and faith.
Today we collect from the calm and peace of the child of the cave, the water of consolation that a Samaritan woman was waiting for, from a teacher at Jacob's Well. Today we collect from the tenderness of the child Whom we ask to protect our children. We ask Him to have mercy on our world. We ask Him to end the present epidemic. We cordially bow before Him, asking consolation for all who are in distress. We ask Him to put His hand in the hands of doctors and medical staff to lift the burden of the epidemic and other diseases from the heart of humanity. We ask Him to accept in His divine light, the souls of loved ones who departed us to meet Him in the hope of resurrection.
On this nativity, we remember every neighbor who came across the cruelty of life. We remember the victims of the absurd wars. Note that the East has paid the cost for the repercussions of war! We ask Him for peace and recovery for Syria and the desired stability for Lebanon as well as for every country part of this East and this world. We ask Him to bestow peace upon the land that embraced Him, for the wounded East, and for Palestine, the country that was crucified on the side of the road of nations.
We ask Him for the sake of the missing and the kidnapped, including our two brethren, the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim, and Paul Yazigi, whose case recapitulates the story of a human being whose dignity is humiliated by his fellow human being, but abundantly honored by the Lord and heavenly Creator.
Today, with the praise of the angels, we anoint Him, and we wait for Him with Joseph's meekness. Today, we look at the contemplation of the Virgin, and with the cheers of the shepherds, we enchant him. Today, with the zeal of the Magi, we come to Him, and with the longing of their hearts, we embrace him. We put Him as a lamp that illuminates the cave of the soul, and a gospel carved in the heart. We warm Him as a child with the clemency of our actions and sympathy. We warm Him as a child when we clothe poor, and we raise Him as Lord when we sympathize as He did. We ask Him for you, my brothers, and my beloved children of the Church of Antioch everywhere. May God grant you many returns of these blessed days.
On the straw of a manger, Mary gave nativity to the hope of mankind, "God of peace and Father of mercies," to whom be glory forever, Amen.
Issued by our Patriarchal Headquarters in Damascus
On December 20, 2021.