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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Nativity 2001

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My beloved children, clergy and congregation in the lands of immigration.

May the peace and grace of the Lord be with you. I congratulate you on the Feast of the Nativity and the beginning of a new year. We always remember that the story of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a story of love. The Holy Bible expresses this by saying "For God so loved the world…" (John 3:16)

God loved this world, this sinful world, that is defeated by the devil and is overcome by sin. The world that is weak and incapable of saving itself. Rather it is the world that before it, all concepts and measures have been turned upside down and values have changed.

The Lord Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save it. And so He said: "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 12:47).

Man lost his divine image and knew innumerable sins, till he reached the stage where he worshipped idols and said, "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1, 2).

Man stood as an enemy before God and the Lord responded to such enmity with love. He is the Lord that David the Prophet tested and said about Him, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. But "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:10, 12)

Truly God has fulfilled the commandment for "loving the enemy" at the highest level.

He came to save the world that rejected Him. Man’s rejection of Him does not mean that He rejects them. But on the contrary He pursued them and saved them from their rejection.

The Lord used to hear the groaning of the hearts saying "My heart has changed, I do not seek God anymore. I do not aim for goodness or search and long for repentance". This was the case of those who loved darkness rather than light. (John 3:19)

The Lord Jesus Christ came to save them from darkness and from loving it.

He also came to save the weak and disabled, of which one of them says: "The evil I will not to do, that I practice…For I know that in me nothing good dwells." (Romans 17:17-19) He who desires to do good is sometimes unable to do it, then how much more so he who does not desire it?

Truly "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). He also came "To preach good tidings to the poor…to heal the broken-hearted…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Isaiah 61:1, 2)

He came to give hope to everyone, even to the weak hands and the feeble knees (Hebrews 12:12). A bruised reed He will not break and smoking flax He will not quench" (Matthew 12:20). He even said to the woman who was caught in adultery "Neither do I condemn you" (John 8:11) because He came to save her, not to judge her.

He never despised the weak sinners, because despising would not save them. But He will save them by love, care, attention and the suitable remedy.

The Lord Jesus Christ lived in the flesh amongst "an evil and adulterous generation." (Matthew 12:39) Although that generation lost its senses, He never deserted it but brought it back to its senses. Even those who crucified Him, He also gave them salvation. And so He said to the Fr. "…Forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) And to the criminal who was crucified with Him, He gave him a promise to enter Paradise (Luke 23:43).

He also never neglected the Gentiles, but said, "…Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 8:11)

He even praised the faith of the centurion by saying, "I have not found such great faith not even in Israel!" (Matthew 8:10) He said to the woman of Canaan, "…Great is your faith." (Matthew 15:28) He opened the gates of the kingdom before the Gentiles. He also commanded His disciples saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19, 20).

These Gentiles never knew Him before, but He has known them. He was referring to them when He said "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16)

The Lord Jesus Christ came for all, caring for all, "He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4)

Let this be our message at the beginning of the New Year; take care of each person to save them, as the Didiscalia teaches us.

Let us not despair of anyone, no matter how far he strays from the Church, and no matter how long he continues to stay away. Let us work with Christ, in the same spirit and with all lowliness and longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 3:2)

Wishing you all a happy new year. Remember me in your prayers.

May you enjoy good health in the Lord and be absolved by the Holy Trinity.

Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
January 2001

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