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Encyclical - December 3, 2007
Christmas Tidings



No. E376/07 December 3, 2007

Apostolic Benediction to our beloved Metropolitans and our dear spiritual children: the Reverend Vicars and the Parshioners of all our churches and congregations in the Arabian Gulf Region.

We are entering into the Fast of Nativity pf our Lord and getting ready to celebrate this blessed feast of the Birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Zechariah, the father of St John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit and gloriying God pronounced: "Blessed be the Lord God ... for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David ... that we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life" (Luke 1:68-75). Here, what we see is the extreme love of God towards humans. Seeing the fallen state of His beloved creation, at the Fulfillment of His time, as promised to the fathers and 'as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old', He sent His only begotten Son to raise him from the fall and to redeem him from the bondages of sin that prevailed over him. He took our own flesh and incarnated as a humble human in a lowly manger in the outskirts of a then small village - Beth-lhem. This is a great wonder to our eyes and highly unperceivable to our comprehensions. It is is His love towards each one of us that compelled Him to set aside His heavenly majesty and glory, and come down to take a human birth. As we read in the second part above, Zechariah says: this is to enable us to serve Him in righteousness and holiness, without the fear of Satanic powers. So our dearly beloved each one of us has to come near to Him and visit Him in that manger like the blessed shepherds and like the wise men. We have to come to Him to worship in holiness; we have to come in righteousness. That means, we have to have a look back at ourselves and cleanse the unjust and unholy things, if any, in our lives and be the true holy children of our heavenly Father, because we are created to be the true bearers of His image of righteousness and holiness and other noble virtues like love, mercy, trustfulness, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, etc. But due to sin, when had fallen from the communion with God and lost that image, He sent to us none other than His Son Himself, to regain for us that lost heavenly image. It is apt that we celebrate this blessed feast at the end of a year. This calls us each, to have a retrospection into our paths of the past, and set ourselves to the right course to enter into a new year. That will enable us to draw near the throne of Grace of our Lord without fear (Hebrews 4:16) and to be with Him all the days of the New Year. This fast of nativity should furnish and adorn us with these heavenly qualities. Then He can take a new birth in our hearts and He can live in us. He can then control and guide us every moment of our life towards His Kingdom. Our hearts will then say with our Holy Mother, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:46-47). Our hearts will find rejoicing and happiness in our God-lncarnate and we will not have to go anywhere else in pursuit of happiness or peace.

Our beloved spiritual children, we trust that you won't miss the true meaning of the wonderful things that God has done for us throuqh the Birth of His Son. At this Christmas season, glorify Him from the bottom of your hearts. Also beseech the intercession of our Holy Mother, who is ever-virgin and who was made pure and spotless by the Holy Spirit at the time of Annunciation. May the God-Incarnate abide in you throughout the New Year. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and extend our Apostolic Blessings to you. May the Grace of God be with you all through the intercession of St. Mary the Mother of God, St. Joseph the Righteous and all other Saints. Amen.

We extend our Apostolic Blessings to you. May the grace of God be with you all.

Our Father Who art in heaven, ...

Issued at our Patriarchal house in Damascus, Syria
on the 3rd day of December, in the year two thousand and seven
which is the 28th year of our Patriarchate.

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