Christmas Message 2005
from + Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Brothers and Sisters,
Happy feast and holy Christmas!
1. Our message is the angel’s message: "Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy…. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk -11). Do not be afraid in spite of all the difficulties we live and that may inspire fear and insecurity. Jesus also tells us: "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn ). It is through faith and through the light and the wisdom faith provides that we can lay down the foundations for our tranquility, and contribute to the general tranquility needed by our society.
The second message of Christmas is joy. The angel says: "I bring you news of great joy…. A Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”. May the joy, which comes with God's grace fill your hearts as you endure so many sufferings. To all our faithful, to all those who are afraid, those who have among the family members a prisoner or someone under torture, to those who had to face death and to all those who are inclined to fill their hearts with hatred, we say: Purify your hearts; let the joy of Christmas renew your whole life.
Our message to all our faithful and to all our brothers and sisters in this
Holy Land, to all Palestinians and to all Israelis: God created you not to fear or to kill each other but to love each other, to build and to cooperate together.
2. To our political leaders who, by their policy, can decide for the life or the death of so many in this land, we say: Be builders of life, not of death. Understand, after such a long time of demolition, death and fighting that these ways could not and will never produce but more demolition, death and fighting. It is time to change ways and to take once for all the good decision to reach justice and peace. Any delay of a solution, with the ongoing injustice under its different aspects, the wall, the gates, the prisons or the assassinations, will only add fuel for violence. When injustice, the cause of violence, ceases violence will stop and security will reign. We hope that we can begin a new period in which all violence will stop on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian alike.
We say it again: security for the Israelis means liberty and sovereignty for the Palestinians. These are two interdependent and inescapable realities. And the half measures, half liberty, or half sovereignty lead us to nowhere except to fall again in an interminable cycle of violence and insecurity.
The present Palestinian position asking for its rights through ways of non-violence and peace, means that peace and justice are possible. Also on the Israeli side we have seen signs and heard expressions indicating a new vision and a new decision. We know that the difficulties are numerous. Without good will every difficulty will prove an insurmountable obstacle. At the contrary, good and sincere will reduces all difficulties and finds the appropriate solution for it.
Holy Landthirsts to recover its peace and holiness. So give the two peoples the life, the security and the dignity they ask. To accept the responsibility of ruling a people means engagement and service to the society not an opportunity to occupy seats or to look for personal profit. It is necessary to put an end to the suffering that lasted too long on this land. We hope that our leaders will now take the time and will spend their energies to accomplish what had to be accomplished long time ago: peace and justice for two peoples capable of living side by side in peace and in good neighborhood.
3. Brothers and sisters, to you living here nearby the blessing of Bethlehem and to the whole world that looks these days toward Bethlehem, the city of the Prince of Peace, I wish you a Christmas full of holiness and courage, so that you may put away all fear and violence and become the true builders of the peace and the justice we all need.
Happy feast and holy Christmas!
+ Michel Sabbah, Patriarch
Special thanks to Patrick Rodrigues, KGCHS, Toronto for sharing this message with us