Good wishes for Christmas 2014
Christmas is the feast of the meeting of God with man, and man with God. This is the deep meaning of the angels’ hymn on the night of the Nativity at Beit Sahour (Shepherds’ Field), near Bethlehem in Palestine: a call to glorify God, who spreads peace among human beings and makes them glad on this earth, as children of the single, global family where they can meet in love to build a better world. That is the real global village, of which Christ is founder and shepherd: the holy Church.
In the Eastern Churches, the Christmas celebrations end with the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, when old Simeon takes Jesus in his arms: that is, the Feast of the Meeting.
Our world, especially the Arab world in those countries walking the way of the cross, is overwhelmed by wars, suffering, violence, terrorism, killing and expulsion, as we see and are experiencing in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. This society needs the meeting with God, which can bring together the inhabitants of this region along the ways of love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, trust, solidarity, living together, respect, veneration and acceptance of others.
We ask all our brothers and sisters to join with us in praying for peace, especially in Syria. We add a prayer for Syria.
We thank all those who, in the course of 2014, have been working to alleviate the suffering of our faithful and our fellow citizens, especially in Syria, but also outside Syria.
We are praying to the Lord for next year to be a year of peace in our dear, much- suffering Middle East, particularly in Syria and Palestine, where the future of the region and the whole world is at stake.
Happy New Year 2015!
With my affection and blessing
+ Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
A Prayer for Peace in Syria
Almighty and merciful God, grant that just as you made yourself Known to Saul on the road to Damascus, that you may soon convert hearts to peace in Syria, and that its people who have fled may soon return to their home.
We ask your blessing on those who, like your Son, have become refugees and have no place to call their own; Look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry. Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen