Following is the English language translation of the Christmas Message 2015 by Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham titled, “Christmas in the ‘Jubilee Year of Mercy’ is mercy and brotherhood” issued on Saturday December 19:
Brothers and sisters,
Let us rejoice in the Lord because our savior was born today. Today, genuine peace descended from Heaven. The Messenger of Peace and the God of Peace has been born. Today, we are in dire need of peace more than any other time. What is beautiful about it, is that this very peace was brought about by a child born to a young mother in a cave and in a small country. Since this matter is nonpareil, it requires silence and thinking… edible silence, thinking, prayer and hope.
Regardless of our feelings and convictions with regards to celebrations marking the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, it is inevitable to look at the face of the divine baby and listen to His question. It is a question He addresses to us with the simplicity of children: “In what way am I related to you? And what space do you leave for me in your hearts and your life?” I hope that our response to these questions will be different from those of the Bethlehemites at the time, who said: “There is no room for you in this house.” “In what way am I related to you? Am I childhood’s beautiful memories and celebrations? Am I a philosopher and a social reformer? Am I just an advocate for goodness and righteousness in life?” All this does not suffice the reality. The answer to these questions may be taken from the angels who brought the good tidings of His birth:” Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” The answer is “saviour”. The baby of the manger wants to convey to us salvation and joy. He wants to dissipate all our fears. He wants to reassure us that goodness defeats evil, that light is stronger than darkness, that grace is stronger than sins, and that love is stronger than hatred. He wants to reassure us that the wave of violence, of elimination, and of forced displacement under way in our Arab world is just ephemeral. It will last, God willing. The status quo ante will be restored. The conviviality and neighborly ties will be restored. There will no differences among us with regards to religious affiliation, to ethnicity, to color, or to gender for “the most noble of us in God’s view are the most righteous.”
This is the message of Christmas under the current circumstances which we are experiencing. In order to comprehend the significance of this message, we have to remain silent, to think, to maintain solitude, and to pray. We should pray in front of the incarnated Word of God who loved us the like of which no one ever did. From now on, there will neither be darkness nor difficulties. There will never be pain that can overpower the bright light of Christmas. From now on, there will be no open wound in the heart of man that cannot be healed by the love of Lord Jesus Christ who had paid its price on the Cross.
We celebrate Christmas this year as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of “Nostra Aetate”, which was issued by the Second Vatican Council. This declaration includes the first ever document endorsing Islamic-Christian dialogue in our modern time. Marking this anniversary is designed to look to the future with the intention of preserving intellectual and cultural achievements among the followers of religions, particularly in our dear homeland. The Church has inaugurated days ago the Jubilee Year of “Mercy”. This very word is synonymous to fraternal love. We learn from the issue of mercy what prompts us to consolidate joint human endeavors towards brothers and sisters who suffer from poverty, disease, or from escalating human difficulties. As a sign of human solidarity in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Latin Vicariate in Amman, in cooperation with Jordan Caritas, will shortly open the “Restaurant of Mercy” to serve free meals to the poor and to the needy on daily basis. It is hoped that this will contribute to enhancing charity work as well as to cooperation with all charity associations in our dear homeland.
We hope that with the advent of the new year, all bloody disputes in our dear Orient will come to an end, all people of the region will restore their conviviality, and all initiatives sponsoring brotherly love will be encouraged so that we can all restore the status quo ante as one united and loving family under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II.