THE BIRTH OF JESUS OF BETHLEHEM IS THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE OF LOVE, JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION - HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
- On Thursday 6 January 2011, His Holiness Aram I celebrated the Christmas Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias. The President of the Republic of Lebanon, H.E. Michel Sleiman and the Speaker of the House H.E. Nabih Berri were represented respectively by the Minister of State Jean Oghassabian and Member of Parliament Hagop Pakradouni.
In his sermon, His Holiness Aram I said that the purpose of Incarnation was to proclaim the Kingdom of God based on the values of love, justice and reconciliation and make disciples to live out their faith based on these values. He then showed what would such a discipleship mean to the Church, to the Armenian people everywhere and particularly in Lebanon, and finally to Christian presence in the Middle East.
“To be Church” he said “means to continue Christ’s mission to establish the values of love, justice and reconciliation through its outreach.” Addressing the Armenian people, he said: “We were the first nation to accept the message of Jesus in 301 AD. Throughout our history of persecutions we have remained truthful to our Christian faith. We shall continue our journey of faith based on love, justice and reconciliation wherever we are.”
Catholicos Aram I then addressed the people in Lebanon and said: “Lebanon is the country of co-existence, which means a life together based on commonly agreed values such as mutual love and respect, equality and justice. I thank the Almighty today that we do not have religious conflicts. However, we should overcome our political sensitivities for the sake of the sovereignty and integrity of Lebanon.” He then continued, “all the confessional communities and political parties in this country are fully Lebanese. I am confident that their positions and claims aim at safeguarding Lebanon. We should not depend on the ‘other’, but work together to establish peaceful co-habitation in Lebanon because our primary allegiance goes to Lebanon.”
Referring to Christian presence in the Middle East, His Holiness Aram I said: “Christianity was born in the Middle East. Jesus was born in Palestine, and he began his public ministry in Palestine. Christianity spread out to the world from Jerusalem. Christians have made the history of the region and contributed to the creation of Middle Eastern Civilization through their faith, their thoughts and their martyrdom. We therefore, denounce all acts of violence against Christians and churches that are happening in Iraq, Egypt and other places. Irrespective of all difficulties, as people of the region, and based on the values of love, justice and reconciliation that Christ has shared, Christians will remain in the Middle East. Christian-Muslim relations are founded on shared values of love, justice and reconciliation; these relations are the product of thousands of years of life together. Therefore, Christians and Muslims will continue to seek together justice peace and prosperity in the region.”
During the next few days His Holiness Aram I received religious and political leaders, as well as representative of civil society organizations congratulating him on the occasion of Armenian Christmas.