Homily of His Beatitude Patriarch John X
On the Eve of the New Year, Mariamiyah Cathedral in Damascus, January 1, 2022
My Dearly Beloved,
We welcome the New Year, with our eyes catching the looks of the newborn child, residing within the heart of the manger. Through the eyes of Mary, humanity sees the coming Savior to the darkness of the world with peace, love, and compassion. Through the eyes of Mary, humanity gazes at the God of humbleness who preferred the manger of Bethlehem as a throne for His infinite glory. Through the eyes of the shepherds, we see the rejoicing of angels, glory in the highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill in the hearts of men.
We welcome the upcoming New Year with a prayer to acknowledge before the Creator our neediness of His mercy and we assert that He is primarily the Master of time and Lord of the world. We welcome the New Year with a prayer to confirm that human wisdom is a drop in the ocean of divine wisdom and that the might of human chaos is a smoke in comparison with the power of God’s active silence. We welcome the upcoming year with prayer and we fix our eyes on the child of the manger who came to our world to sow a glimmer of hope despite all adversity.
We welcome the New Year and the epidemic is still raging: the pandemic took away our loved ones and has not ceased yet. Amid the ongoing and amid the dispute about the epidemic itself and its treatment, man and humanity continue to approach everything with the logic of dispute and confrontation instead of dialogue and communication. Men have filled the surface of the earth with tons of weapons of all kinds to challenge and confront their fellow human beings. A history of wars and conflicts resulted from human oppression, settled and consolidated by the logic of superiority, arrogance, resentment, and hostility. Nonetheless, the present epidemic tells every one of us: on earth, we are on boarding the same boat; we are the passengers of a single boat. We are called, primarily, to glorify God by our love, cooperation, and solidarity as human beings whom God wanted in His peace, so they inclined toward their peace based on the rejection of the other. Today we pray and fall at the feet of the child of the manger, asking Him to have compassion on His world and to end the present epidemic. We pray asking the Lord to instill His peace and firmness in the hearts of people for them to know that the banners of peace are derived from the highest and that hearts that are not inhabited by the Lord of peace can only build a digital civilization that dazzles the eye but does not captivate the heart.
On New Year’s Eve, we pray for the installation of peace in Syria. We pray for Syria that is emerging from the throes of war, but which repercussions surround the people’s livelihood. The country emerges from the fire of war, but the economy groans under its fire, leading the young people to the gates of migration in hope of pursuing a living. The time has come for the cross of this country to reach the threshold of resurrection. The time has come for the people’s pain to fade and for their livelihood to emerge under the weight of the sinful economic blockade. The time has come for the spear of this East to be broken as the constituent countries and peoples come together in a single hand.
On New Year’s Eve, we pray for Lebanon and stability in Lebanon. We pray for our people in Lebanon who are suffering under material hardship and the weight of the explosion of the port of Beirut. Everyone is impatiently waiting, especially the families and relatives of the deceased and the affected during the blast. Those people have the right to find what the investigations will unveil concerning the port file and the economic file in general. Hence the pivotal role of the judiciary and the competent bodies, away from politicization and from dealing with the logic of vexation, in revealing the circumstances of what happened, whether in the port or public money, and activating the logic of equal accountability and for everyone.
Despite everything, this East remains a part of our Christian identity and our testimony to Jesus Christ as Lord, God and Savior. This East, regardless of how long time passes, remains part of our Christian entity as Antiochian Christians in the East and all parts of the earth. Our land is an identity and an entity. From this land, faith was suckled with mother’s milk and we will rest in peace, in this land, next to our ancestors who preceded us.
Today we celebrate the Nativity of Christ in the flesh, but we bear with agony at heart, the kidnapped, including our brothers their Eminences, Metropolitans of Aleppo Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, who have been kidnapped since April 2013, amidst international silence and impotence. We all pray to unravel the circumstances of this file and reach desired conclusions.
Our prayers today intend our steadfast people in every occupied land. Our prayers go to Palestine and Its people. Our prayers go to Bethlehem that received Jesus in the flesh. Our prayers go to the honorable Jerusalem, which I knew in pain, but resurrected from the dead. Palestine was and will remain the capital of Palestine, and the pilgrimage of hearts to the mercies of God, the Father of lights, Lord of heaven and earth.
Our prayers are for wounded Iraq and every part of this East and we raise our prayers for the installation of peace in the entire world.
We address a good nativity peace and apostolic blessing from the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the founders of the Apostolic See of Antioch, to our children in the Antiochian See at home and in the countries of the world. May God bless you all and grant you His heavenly blessings.
Happy New Year and may the New Year bring blessing and hope. Amen.