“Lord, give us peace, for you have given us everything.” Isaiah 26:12 (LXX)

To you, dear friends, my best wishes for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and for the New Year 2022.

God himself offers festal wishes to all of us, Christians and others, because God always takes the initiative. He it is who prepared the choir of angels to bring us the angelic, cosmic song of Beit Sahour and Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2: 14)

It is God, Jesus himself, New-born in Bethlehem, who addresses this hymn to us, wishing all of us joy, peace and happiness. Christmas is God’s great initiative for all the children of this earth.

This is Christmas: the mystery of Christmas, mystery of the Incarnation, mystery of the Advent of God to our earth. This is the mystery of God's encounter with the children of this earth, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1: 14) He came to proclaim Peace to us near and far. He killed enmity among men. (cf. Ephesians 2: 13-14) This is God's programme for humans, the Christmas programme, the programme from heaven to earth.

It is above all God’s programme to achieve peace among the men of this world.

How we need peace in the East! We experience a cycle of enmity, hatred, aggression, war, starting from Palestine, the cradle of Jesus, Prince of Peace. Our young people, whole generations of children, are brought up to enmity.

It is beautiful to see, here and there, initiatives and contracts between Arab states and Israel, but there can be no true, lasting, comprehensive, common peace between Arabs and Israelis, without peace for Palestine, and the recognition of the rights of Palestinians to a homeland, identity, dignity and heritage.

This is the wish of all nations and is the subject of all international resolutions. These are the wishes of us all, and the subject of our prayers. This must be the object of the efforts of all Arab countries, Israel and Palestine, Europe, Russia, the United States, China, Iran - and anyone who loves peace.

Peace is the guarantee of communal and international living, living together, Muslim-Christian dialogue, solidarity, and the development of stability and of security. It is the guarantee of the Christian presence and role in building together a civilization of love and peace, our human civilization.

Happy Feast! Holy Year 2022!

Gregorios III
Patriarch Emeritus

The Social Centre, Dar al-Inayah, Salhieh, Saida, P.O.B. 17, Lebanon
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