2019 Christmas Message
Patriarch Louis Raphael Card. Sako
It is very sad that Christmas is coming this year too in such painful circumstances. The wounds of the Islamic State (ISIS) have not been healed yet, together with the ongoing violence, poverty, unemployment and poor services that have pushed thousands of people, especially youth, to demonstrate peacefully, demanding the right to live with dignity and freedom in a stable, secure, and strong independent homeland. Since 2003, this dream has not been realized and our hearts are still full of sorrow and anxiety for the large number of casualties and thousands of injured Iraqis. It is unfortunate that Iraqis are unable to find an effective way to put the country on the right track, eliminate sectarianism, corruption, illegal enrichment, and the unfair seize of public and private properties, despite the numerous appeals from inside and outside Iraq.
The message of Christmas is the message of Jesus Christ, the Savior) defiant), at all its stages, aims to achieve peace, justice, freedom, dignity, fraternity, love, and happiness: “Glory to God in the highest and peace be on earth among people of good will” (Luke 2:14). Jesus Christ was born, in order for us to be born in him and with him for a new life of all humankind through its spiritual and moral concepts. Jesus Christ will be born within us when love and mercy fill our hearts; when we choose fraternity and compassion; and refuse to comply with evil, then we will have the joy of peace and reiterating Saint Paul’s words: “For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age” (Titus 2: 11-12).
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In this suffering Middle East, let us meditate deeply on the message of Christmas, in order to personify it in our daily life, since Jesus’ birth is a declaration of a harmonious and happy life. This is the way to follow His path of heartfelt fraternity, peace and joy. A path that makes human being more human and allow him to live with dignity.
Today, we live in grief, and we are looking for hope and consolation to face the escalation of violence and the frightening increase in number of casualties and wounded in Baghdad and other cities. No one knows where Iraq is going to? Therefore, and in this delicate situation, I urge all politicians and security officials to listen to the voice of their people in this blessed land of Abraham, the voice of those who were killed, and those who are still subjected to injustice, misery and humiliation; and to avoid military solution that will certainly leave more dead and injured. This appeal embraces a “rescue initiative” that should accommodate the crisis, through courageous dialogue with the protesters to achieve a comprehensive national project, which could be the “rescue board” that saves the country, pleases God, and makes Iraqis happy.
On this occasion and as we are going through these critical and painful circumstances, I would like to bring to the attention of our bishops and priests (especially those who are serving in Iraq), the importance of showing closeness of the Church to Iraqis, Christians, Muslims and others; accompanying them, spiritually and humanitarianly; and responding to their needs with distinct care, following the example of Jesus Christ. Keeping in mind that God will hold us accountable for our love and service we offer for others, which is precisely what we mean by singing the Christmas Eve hymn: When we give a cup of water for a thirst * When we clothe a naked, out of love * When we wipe out tears from others’ eyes * when we fill hearts with hope * we are in Christmas. When I kiss my friend without cheating * When I get rid of the spirit of revenge * When my heart is cleansed from staleness * When my souls melts in God’s being * I am in Christmas (this hymn is inspired by the Gospel of Matthew 25: 35- 36). This is the right way to live our consecration of loving, serving and witnessing,
In conclusion, I assure my closeness to all Iraqis, and express my condolences and feelings of solidarity with the families of martyrs, injured, and the disabled, of both protesters and security forces, wishing a speedy recovery for the wounded.
I implore God the Almighty to grant us the peace and joy of Christmas, wishing you all a blessed and happy New Year.