His beatitude’s sermon from the Maryamieh church…
His beatitude’s sermon from the Maryamieh church on the beginning of the New Year 2017
The days come and go, and so do the days of our life. We are at the eve of a New Year which we always inaugurate with prayer.
Today we are to renew the pledge with the Lord of our souls Jesus Christ, in order to be and live only for him. We are here to make ourselves the cradle for the one, who lay on a manger 2000 years ago, and to lift our eyes towards the Divine Baby and offer him gold frankincense and myrrh the treasures of our hearts, in form of love, humility and patience. We are here to take from His face the water of comfort and condolences against our difficulties, and to receive from the lowliness of His cave, banners of hope in the midst of the caves of our distress and difficulties.
It is a New Year in which we sing to the Lord of times. It is a New Year to renew our heart and soul, and put on the wings of hope amidst every difficulty and hardship.
On this day, every year, man yearns for his creator appealing to His presence in the depth of the human heart and soul, and asking the Lord of times to touch his heart and lay His hand on his life.
The New Year comes one week after Christmas. This time of the year is an opportunity for each one of us to say to himself: Man, meditate over the birth of Jesus Christ. Place Him before your eyes, scrutinizing into Him. Make up your mind and decide whether you expect from Christmas to be a threshold to renewal and spiritual birth for you. Jesus Christ does not invade your life, nor does He force you to do anything. You are called within the interval between Christmas and the New Year to meditate if you really wish to seal your heart with this new born baby, making of His birth your own birth by His being born in you. And the baby being born in a cave, and laid in a manger outside the place, He knocks at the door expecting you to open for Him the cave of your heart to walk in and lie in all the nooks of your being. He does not want a fluctuating heart, nor a royal reception. Think and contemplate.
And if you decide that He himself is the Lord of your life, open to Him the door of your heart, and sign a contract with Him. He does not walk in by force, He rather wants us to ask for Him and come to Him the way He came to us condescending from His highest to settle in our createdness that has been assumed by corruption.
Today’s epistle and saint are the best evidence that the Lord does not invade anybody’s life nor does He enslave it, but He rather expects man to realize fully and freely that his life is from God, and that he himself should comply with the Divine Baby who sowed His teaching in form of love in the whole world.
St. Basil the Great, the saint we celebrate today, had liked philosophy, profane knowledge, and rhetoric; he even indulged deeply into them, but never had he been taken by the conceit and absurdities of the vain world. It seemed he listened to St. Paul’s voice which we heard today in the epistle to the Colossians:
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. …” (Colossians 2:8).
St Basil the Great studied the Greek Philosophy and had taken all the sciences of the ancient world, yet the nets of the Galilee fishermen had been to him more influential than the nets of the Greek orators. The words of the simple Gospel had dug deeper in him than the eloquence of the orators did. It even ruled his heart, and his heart converted and was totally united with it despite the acquisition of much profane knowledge which in fact he used very well and skillfully.
Thus, our Saint spent his life dedicated totally to God, even sealed by him, to become one of the greatest fathers of the church.
The New Year comes and wounded Syria has been walking into a six-year crisis. The New Year comes and we, the Syrians, have been paying the blood of our children for the sake of our homeland. All the lava and heat of terror, all the fragments of Takfir which are strange to us, have come down on Syria. We have had enough bloodshed and enough destruction. This country will stay united, and all stolen territories will come back to it just like Aleppo did.
I have been to Aleppo for Christmas as you know, and I have met with many people there. We have been comforted by them, and they, by us. We all have been strengthened by one another. You will not even believe what we have seen of what the hands of terrorists did; they destroyed everything; they did not even preserve the sacredness of churches, mosques, museums, houses, hospitals or anything; Yet, Aleppo will be back because of the firmness of her children. She will be even more gorgeous than before.
Our call today is to enforce efforts for reconciliation, and strengthen the basis of coexistence. Our call to the great powers is to initiate to lifting the economic siege that deprives the Syrians of food to live, and to stopping fighting because the weapon markets are open to all. Yet, Syria will be back as it was, and will be even brighter.
What the region witnesses today, calls everybody to an attitude of faithfulness and meditation. We have had enough of terror and bloodshed. We the Christians of the East have been paying the taxes for what is going on like the others. We are here to hear the voice again: The blood of the Egyptians is ours; and the houses of the Iraqi are ours; we are brothers of the same history and geography with our Muslim brethren and with all the specters of the East whether they be a minority or a majority.
Again we raise before the whole world, organizations, and governments; the cause of the two bishops of Aleppo, for this cause summarizes our suffering as eastern Christians. This cause is the stab of falseness in the body of truth. We raise before everybody the cause of the two bishops John Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi who have been abducted for more than three years and eight months. We call on all to look closely into this human file, and to work hard for their release with others who are kidnapped too.
Our prayer from this holy place is for Lebanon too. We call that this country may stay and be a place of citizenship and coexistence to all the specters and composites in it. We call on all for the preservation of the constitutionality of this country that interprets one common living and one citizenship, and to give up sectarianism for the sake of a patriotic crucible, and to transcend through the efforts of the Lebanese. We thank God that the presidential vacancy has come to end and we also pray that the coming days will witness the adoption of a new law for elections having the parliamentary elections on time for the preservation of the constitutional institutions as a pity and mercy for the citizens who have been paying a lot from their health and work. The general agreement on great issues that concern this country should be based on tolerance with common reasonable and serious dialogue that is referred to, for solving all the knots and files too.
We also address our children at home and in the Diaspora with the peace of Christmas and with the apostolic blessing from the Maryamieh church in Damascus, from the church of Antioch, the church of the saints Peter and Paul.
May the Lord bless your families, and your children, and grant you from above every earthly and heavenly grace. A Christmas peace to our parents who withstand in other regions of the earth. A Christmas peace to those adhering and sticking to hope amidst confusion, unsettlement, and poverty.
Jesus, who calmed down the storm, calm down the storms of our distress and suffering. Jesus, who assumed our clay and createdness, clean it with Your light, and pour Your divine comfort into our hearts. Jesus, who cured the sickness of people, cure the wounds of our souls. Return the abducted, comfort the displaced, grant us Your peace, and have mercy on us and on Your world, for You are blessed unto ages of ages.
A happy New Year to you all.
The Meeting of our Lord and…
JOHN X Patriarch of Antioch and…