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Friday, 22 December 2006 - Patriarchal Message for Christmas

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
                and on earth peace among men
                                with whom He is well pleased” (Luke 2:14)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given” (Isa 9:6). These words of the Prophet Isaiah carry the true meaning of Christ’s Birth. In appearance the child who is born is one among thousands. This Child was born in a manger, in Bethlehem, under poor circumstances. However, this Child is the Son of God. Like the privileged shepherds let us rush to welcome him in our hearts for He changed the history of humanity, He also changed the history of the Armenian Nation 1705 years ago, by sending an Illuminator to preach the luminous message of the Bible and He is capable of ameliorating our today’s life.

He who chose his cradle the pot which animals feed from, the manger, He who divested himself from the divine glory which was singular to Him alone, He who sacrificed His life for the salvation of mankind, let the brightness of His birth illuminate our somber world and hearts. Let the power of His message of love shatter the proud and arrogant attacks of the evil. Let the sacrifice of His life teach us the precious value of the human life especially when everyday blood is shed and lives are taken. How much violence, fighting and struggle between the sons of the same country! People are fed with such bad news and sad scenes. They are looking for a way out and a solution.

For that specific reason Christ came to the world, to bring people close to each other and in harmony. The angels called out “Peace on earth” meaning peace between people who are good willing. The name of Christ in our divine service became the “King of Peace”. True, Christ is our only raft for peace. He is the one and only that can make out of us a nation in unity.

Christ is not abstract, He is a tangible person and very close to us. His name is Immanuel which means God is with us, with all of us. He came to establish the Church to dwell in her. We are all obliged to work for the establishment of the Church, the House of God. Wherever there is love then God is with us, wherever there is fraternal love then Christ is present, wherever there is peace the Holy Spirit is in us. By this thought, Christian congregation assembly becomes a family of love and harmony. This is the true Christian community that we are called to form so as the presence of God among people. Dear ones, let us pray and work to improve our hearts and thoughts according to the Gospel, through good deeds to form the Christian community where each and everyone is considered as Christ.

In honor of the Solemnity of the Birth of our Lord, presents are given to express the happiness of this celebration. However, the biggest gift is the one that’s given by God, Jesus, who brought new understandings to man to get out of difficult and inextricable troubles, in order to show people it is possible to live with love and in peace and harmony by following Him and His principles. Greed, the obsession to rule and dominate, the inclination to take revenge and other wrong perceptions never bring solutions neither to us and our families and nor to out society. There are many examples proving this point and the nearest one is the present troubled condition of Lebanon and the worried and confused situation of the Lebanese.

        Christ teaches us the way to love, whereas people the way to hatred.

        Christ teaches us harmony, whereas people adversity.

        Christ teaches us forgiveness whereas people vengeance.

        Christ teaches us a new civilization of happiness and life, whereas people teach us the culture of death.

People are unfortunate when they are away from God and make their surrounding as misfortunate as they are.

Christmas celebration gives us the chance to show the world new ways and manners of living and behavior.

Since the assassination of Pierre Jemayel, Benedictus XVI, the Supreme Pontiff, takes advantage of every opportunity presented to express his worries about Lebanon. He said, “I follow with great concern whatever happens in the Middle East , where serious crisis and difficulties can bring forth to new constraints, especially in Lebanon, where people of different cultures and religions are meant to live together and to build a country based on dialogue and consent that all can benefit from. I ask from the Lebanese, especially from the political leaders to look only for what’s good for the country and harmony among the different communities by establishing unity, something which requires continuous efforts also based on the confidence and dialogue”. The Holy Father continues, “I invite all the Lebanese to work hand in hand against the forces wanting to destroy the country, not to let hatred prevail, but to reestablish the national unity, justice and reconciliation, to secure a constant and peaceful future”.

Dearly beloveds, I conclude my words by repeating the Holy Father’s advice wishing for Lebanon and dear Lebanese, the following prophecy by Isaiah “Arise! Shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” (Isa 60:1)

Christ is born and revealed, Blessed be the Birth of Christ

Nerses Bedros XIX
Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholics

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