PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS 2002
PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS
Ref. No. 715
BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA TO ALL THE FAITHFUL OF OUR CHURCH, GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY FROM OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST WHO BECAME INCARNATE
'For Christ himself has made peace between us by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us'. (Ephesians 2:14)
My beloved children in Christ,
We stand once again in front of the mystical presence of God by celebrating the Nativity of Jesus Christ!
Do we witness this great event or we are just continuing an empty tradition that we commemorate with temporary offerings of the season?
If peace is the goal, how does the world transcend social evil, the destruction and disruption of peace and respond to the call of the times to work for the peace?
Today's times are difficult and troubling. Many divisions are taking place particularly religious ones. Universal ruffles, rage, hate, violence, conflicts and as the zenith widespread terrorism. All these threats grow on a daily basis. Even those who up until today were unaffected now see the brutal ax of a new world that endeavors to cut off and restrain any positive voice that calls for peace.
The hostilities are increasing and the nuclear threat hangs over us. The inequality among people in the world and the separation between different cultures increases the gap between people upsetting the balance of civilization, human virtues are looked down upon and indifference to human suffering, hunger, grief and death becomes commonplace. The children in Africa are suffering of starvation and with tears in their eyes ask 'Why?'
'Where is the King of the peace and our hope?'
We can find a simple and clear answer to this question by contemplating our duty and taking up the cross of peace on our shoulders. As a result we can then benefit from the 'precious blessing' that is bestowed (St. Basil the Great).
Far removed from empty words and rhetoric; far removed from the manipulation of various pacifistic systems and organizations whose aim is their own benefit; is the 'Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6), the one Who calls for peace (St. Athanasios the Great). Those who desperately seek peace should take refuge in Him.
If we have the peace of God in our hearts, this peace can then be imparted to others so that they too may have peace in their hearts.
The Gospel of peace, which is our weapon against evil, can turn away any harm, calm the soul and cure any wounds of iniquity.
It is a great responsibility of Church Leaders, in particular myself that shepherds the blessed souls of the missionary nations in Africa, to help engender peace as a living experience. If we have Jesus Christ in the midst of our family then we have Him in our society as well. Here He builds the law of love and justice, breaks down the injustice that reigns today and restores the dove of peace as an unshakable sign of life and happiness.
My beloved children,
It brings such joy to hear the voice of God saying 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring peace' (Romans 10:15).
Christ is born. He is our peace. Preach peace, love peace, struggle for peace and then the grace of God will be with us.
From the See of St. Mark, the Apostle and Evangelist, we paternally wish that the God of peace grant you every gift, blessing and joy that comes from above so that 'the peace of the Lord will reign infinitely and endlessly from ages to ages' (St. Basil the Great).
With the love of our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ,
+ PETROS VII
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria