Patriarch Sako: Message of Christmas 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
For the past two decades, we have celebrated Christmas in an insecure condition that continue to worsen significantly in 2020 due to Corona pandemic in an unprecedented way. Moreover, we were obliged to suspend prayers and pastoral activities in our Churches since March 2020 for the safety of our people.
Christmas: Restoring Spiritual Serenity
In the midst of such disturbing situation, we, faithful should focus on the meanings of Christmas rather than on the “appearance” of our celebration, which would be restricted also, because of Corona. However, despite all the circumstances, Christmas remains a source of hope and strength to restore spiritual serenity through our intimate celebration within the family and the Church community based on the real meaning of Christmas, so that the birth of Christ will be in our hearts and our families, filling us with the grace of confidence. Jesus Christ keeps telling us: “Do not be afraid” (Mark 6: 50), and “Behold, I am with you all the days” (Matthew 28: 20). Remembering these words will help us to overcome fear, hold onto our faith and deepen our fraternal relationships.
Christ was born, so we must born in Him and with Him, into another level of life and relationship. The word of God is incarnated in the human nature of Jesus Christ to incarnate in us as well. On the other hand, the birth of Jesus Christ enable us to participate spiritually in the divine life. Let us remember what he said: “But to those who did accept Him and believed in His name He gave them power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Jesus simply lived a relationship of love and obedience to God and a relationship of love, solidarity, and service with the people. This is what we should meditate on at Christmas, and look for a way to live it on daily life, so that the Word of God fill our hearts and enable us to regain our spiritual purity and sanctify our efforts towards a better future.
This change takes place when the community is united in love and prayers that bring light, warmth, comfort, and helps in generating confidence and enthusiasm to continue walking forward together.
Christmas: to Establish Fraternal Solidarity
Christmas invites us to show solidarity with each other and extend a helping hand to the needy, especially unemployed, and students struggling with Corona pandemic consequences to continue their studies. Let us remember again what Jesus said: “as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 40). Up to-date, the Patriarchate has provided more than $150,000 to help the needy, without distinction.
Christmas: Reconciliation and Achieving Peace
Jesus Christ taught us that God is the Father of all humanity, and that we are brothers of one family. According to this spirit, Pope Francis in his Encyclical “We are all brothers” urged us to be sincere brothers rather than fighting each other. Therefore, Christians and Muslims should leave their differences aside, love and serve each other as family members. Let us join hands as one team to change our situation and overcome these crises and give the priority to our homeland, by mutual respect that consolidate values of coexistence.
We are saddened to say, that Iraq currently is at the “crossroads” facing the most difficult challenge. So, we have either to re-initiate our relations on good principles to rebuild our country on sound rules, or the storm will lead us to the worst!
Sisters and Brothers
Faith, prayer and charitable contributions would prepare us to celebrate Christmas and the new year, so that God may shower our hearts with His graces and blessings. This way, we will gain the strength to overcome the “trial” and enjoy the angels’ hymn of peace on Christmas Eve: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good hope for human beings” (Luke 2: 14), peace in Iraq and hope for Iraqis.
May our dear Lord grant Iraq and the whole world to live in peace and recover from Corona pandemic. I call you to grab the opportunity of Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq on 5-8 March 2021, by being creative in preparing for such an important event for the sake of our country and the region.
I wish to all of you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
Maran Tha, come, Lord Jesus Christ, we need you and we are waiting for you.