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Christmas Message 2018 of His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III YOUNAN (English)


Would you please read the Christmas Message 2018 of His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III YOUNAN, Patriarch of Antioch for Syriac Catholic Church:


Nr. Prot.: 209/2018

Date: 22.12.2018




To our brothers, Archbishops and Bishops, 

Fathers of our Holy Synod of Antioch,

To the Priests, Deacons, religious consecrated men and women,

To all the faithful people in Lebanon, 

In the Middle East and the Church of Extension


«ܐܶܬܡܰܟܰܟ ܕܰܢܪܺܝܡܰܢ»



    Peace and love in our Lord Jesus Christ



    We are pleased to present our warm salutations and prayerful wishes, on the occasion of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Year 2019, to our Syriac brothers, sons, and daughters in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Holy Land, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Europe, America, and Australia, invocating the Holy Infant of Bethlehem to grant them His abundant blessings, so they may live in lasting spiritual joy, love, and peace.


    Humility, the presence of God in our life

    God the Father chose the humble Virgin Mary, the “full of grace”, to be the mother of His Word Incarnate through the Holy Spirit: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14).

    Every time we celebrate Christmas, we are reminded to open our hearts to the divine Love and cherish the humility of the One whom Mary “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn” (Lk 2:14).

    As St. Paul teaches us: Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (Phil 2: 6). But He emptied Himself in human likeness, for the redemption of our humanity and the salvation of the world.

    The manger, where Jesus was born, became the sign of the indescribable love of God who assumed our weaknesses, our pains, and our worries, to turn them into grace, hope, and love, as a mysterious sign of the transcendent kindness of God.

    St. Ephrem the Syriac praises the humility of the Lord Jesus at His nativity:

«ܡܳܐ ܡܰܟܺܝܟ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ ܡܳܐ ܥܰܙܺܝܙ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ ܐܳܘ ܝܰܠܽܘܕܳܐ܆ ܕܺܝܢܳܟ ܥܰܙܺܝܙ܆ ܚܽܘܒܳܟ ܒܰܣܺܝܡ܆ ܡܰܢܽܘ ܡܶܫܟܰܚ ܕܰܥܠܰܝܟ ܢܩܽܘܡ».

    “How great your humility is, and how glorious you are, O Child! Your rule is precious, your love is delicious, who can perceive you!” (St. Ephrem the Syriac, Hymns on the Nativity13: 6).

    Living in humility, as Pope Francis said, is “to acknowledge God, to walk in his presence, to fully relying upon his providence that strengthens us, therefore we don't say bad things about others, we accomplish all duties entrusted to us and we feel that we are the smallest of all children... here lays our strength”.

    The baby born is the Son of God, sent by the Father to proclaim His infinite love and mercy to the world, a great joy for people in every nation, place and time. The joy of salvation is addressed to every human being of whatever religion, race or color.

    The Lord Jesus, by his nativity, united his human nature in our human nature, as St. Ephrem the Syriac said:

«ܝܰܘܡܳܢܳܐ ܛܶܒܥܰܬ݀ ܢܰܦܫܳܗ̇ ܐܰܠܳܗܽܘܬܳܐ ܒܐ̱ܢܳܫܽܘܬܳܐ܆ ܕܬܶܨܛܰܒܰܬ ܐܳܦ ܐ̱ܢܳܫܽܘܬܳܐ ܒܓܰܘ ܛܰܒܥܳܗ̇ ܕܰܐܠܳܗܽܘܬܳܐ. ܐܶܬܰܝܢ ܕܢܶܚܙܶܝܟ ܐܰܝܟ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ܆ ܗܳܐ ܒܰܪܢܳܫܐ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ. ܐܶܬܰܝܢ ܕܢܶܚܙܶܝܟ ܐܰܝܟ ܕܰܠܐ̱ܢܳܫܳܐ܆ ܨܡܰܚ ܠܶܗ ܢܺܝܫܳܐ ܕܰܐܠܳܗܽܘܬܳܟ».

    “Today, the divinity has been printed in humanity, so that man may be adorned with the nature of God. We came to see you as God, you are a human being. We came to see you as a human, the sign of your divinity shined upon us” (St. Ephrem the Syriac, Hymns on the Nativity, 1: 99 and 13: 9).

    Let us learn from our Savior Jesus Christ the true meaning of humility and mercy. Let us open our hearts and homes to Him and receive Him with joy. Christmas season should not be reduced to merely a ceremonial show of food, drink, and clothes, but should rather shine in love to the Divine Word who took our nature lifting us up to be children of God.


    Christmas Impact on our World Today

    If the Word of God did humbly incarnate to free us from the yoke of sin, Christmas should inspire us to deepen our relationship with Jesus, who out of love took our human nature, understanding our weaknesses and pardoning our sins. He taught us that loving God and loving our neighbor both complete the same commandment and that being first is to be servant of one’s brothers and sisters. He therefore reminds us that all positions, either in the church or in the society, are vocations to serve.

    As noted by many citizens in Lebanon, instead of a joyous atmosphere, Christmas this year comes rather in a very sad state of mind. The vast majority of common people are struggling to keep their jobs, in order to provide for their families. This situation is almost intolerable, given the huge numbers of foreigners who fled the neighboring countries! Our church communities kept trying to alleviate the suffering and bring joy to the children, inspiring them hope and confidence in the Divine Savior.

    Added to that, we consider unacceptable, that Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for the past six months since last May parliamentary elections. The acting Cabinet cannot solve the huge economic crisis inherited from the past, nor being able to face the many challenges inside and outside the country, in order to inspire confidence to the people and alleviate their sufferings. Therefore, we raise our voices and call on all politicians to bear the responsibility of their indolence in obstructing the formation of the government. The consequences of such stagnation are alarming and very dangerous on the entire nation and particularly on the common people. With the psalmist we would invoke God Almightywho “will hear the cry of the poor” and we surely hope that the long expected strong and honest government will be soon a Christmas gift.

    As of Syria the neighboring country enduring for more than seven years, the horrendous conflict of destruction and killing, we pray the merciful divine Child of Bethlehem to insure reconciliation and peace among the people of that beleaguered and devastated nation.

    We are very pleased to know that most of the Syrian cities and provinces have been liberated, where public and private institutions are back to work. We exhort all those who have been forced to leave, to make a quick return to their beloved Syria, in order to share in rebuilding their homeland, preserving their ancient civilization, and enhancing their participation in finding the best civil solutions for their future.

    Two years have passed since the defeat of terrorist bands causing so much turmoil and chaos in Iraq. The liberation of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain was finally achieved and most of our Christian communities once uprooted, are, thanks to God, returned. We hope that people who endured unheard-of suffering, be able to make a safe return to their homes where they would live in peace and participate in the reconstruction of their country.

     We, the Six Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East, were very pleased recently to hold our meeting in Bagdad and visit the highest officials of Iraq. We are hopeful and urge the political parties in that beloved nation, to sincerely work on filling the vacant government seats, in order to embark on the process of rebuilding and developing the country. The Iraqi people deserve, after decades of turmoil, to live in peace, dignity and in equality of civil and religious rights for all.

    As for our sons and daughters in Jordan, we are pleased to inform them that we have started the process of obtaining recognition by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of our Church as a religious entity. We hope that this landmark will strengthen the mission of our Church in the Kingdom, as of its spiritual, cultural and social activities. In this context, we renew our thanks to his Majesty the King and to his government, for giving hospitality to our displaced people and the refugees from Syria and Iraq.

    We also want to express our concerns regarding the critical and violent situation in the Holy Land. We ask the Divine Child born in Bethlehem to grant his peace in that land blessed by His incarnation for the salvation of all humans. While we are saddened by the conflict that has lasted for generation, we reject the unilateral decision that declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and recall the two-State solution, demanding the guarantee of the right of the three religions in their holy sites.

    We must likewise affirm our full solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt, who often are exposed to various kinds of threats, acts of violence and terrorism. We very much appreciate the laudable arrangements of the Egyptian president and his government to dismiss extremism in the religious speeches and foster tolerance, mutual respect among religious communities.

    We send our heartfeltsalutationsto our brother-Bishops, clergy and faithful in the Church of the Extension in Europe, America, and Australia, where their numbers keep growing. We want to assure you that you also deserve our full attention and love. We urge you to keep faithful to the Lord Jesus and His Holy Church. Be proud and cherish your ancient Syriac heritage. In front of all challenges and difficulties of the time, raise your children having before the eyes the Holy Family. While always committed to your new countries wherever the Lord God has called you, be also mindful of your country of origin in the Middle East, the land that gave Jesus to the world.

    We also want to express our affection to all our children who still suffer of the tragic uprooting from their homes and countries and found unable to make a safe return. For all who have endured the exile, we ask God’s mercy, consolation and strength.

    This year marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which Lebanon played a key role through the Ambassador Charles Malik. A very respected legislator, Malik was the Rapporteur of the Drafting Committee of that Declaration, which was unique in its preamble, emphasizing the equal rights of all to freedom, justice, and peace. The Declaration affirmed that human beings are born free and equal in rights and duties, foremost of which is freedom of conscience and belief, guaranteed by separation of religion from politics and public life. How much do we need in our tormented Middle East to apply the principles of this charter, in order to ban all extremism and discrimination!

    Within the same subject, His Holiness Pope Francis issued his public message on the occasion of the 52nd World Peace Day 2019, entitled “Good Politics is in the Service of Peace” considering that the “political responsibility is for every citizen, especially those who have the task of protection and governance, and this message is based on preserving the right and encouraging dialogue between all parts of society”.

    His Holiness continues: “When a person is respected in his rights, the meaning of duty grows in respect for the rights of others, because human rights and duties develop the certainty of belonging to one community with God and others”.

    As in all of our previous messages, we reiterate our call for the release of all the abductees, in particular, the Archbishops of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi and Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim, and the missing priests and laity. May the Holy Infant Jesus grant the martyrs to rest in peace, heal the wounded ones and comfort all those who are aggrieved by the loss of a beloved.


    Let Us Pray

    Dear Jesus, you didn't consider equality with God something to be used to your own advantage, instead, you did empty yourself and become man without giving up your divinity. You loved the weakness of our human nature to become a model of humility.

    We pray to you, O divine child: Fill us with the lights of your love and your perfect humility, and support us to reflect these lights in our families, our churches, our societies and our countries.

    O Holy Child, grant us to realize the mystery of your incarnation, strengthen our faith and make us rejoice in your glorious Nativity, so that we may adore you with Mary your mother and Joseph the Just, singing the glory with the Angels, Amen.


    With a great joy, we impart on you and your dear ones our apostolic blessing: May the Almighty and One God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܐܶܬܺܝܠܶܕ... ܗܰܠܶܠܽܘܝܰܗ

Merry and Peaceful Christmas, Happy and Blessed 2019!


    Ignatius Youssef III YOUNAN

    Patriarch of Antioch for SyriacCatholic Church



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