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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Nativity 2003

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

I congratulate you on the Feast of the Nativity and the beginning of a new year, may God make it a blessed and happy year for you all.

Put before yourselves at all times, the salvation of your souls and of all those around you, as the message of the birth of Christ is a message of salvation before anything. That is how the angel, at the time of the Lord’s birth, announced the good news by saying, "… behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

Also the angel who announced the birth of Christ to St. Joseph said to him, "And you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21), because, Jesus in Hebrew means God saves or God is the Saviour.

And in the story of Zacchaeus, the Lord Jesus Christ said about His message, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) And in another occasion, He also said, "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world." (John 12:47)

And in her song, the Virgin Mary said about Him, "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour." (Luke 1:47) And Simeon the elder said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation." (Luke 2:29-30) This is because the Lord’s birth was the first step in the procession of salvation that was completed on the Cross.

This salvation is what all the sacrifices of the Old Testament were symbolic of.

And the salvation that the Lord Jesus Christ completed by redemption means that He is saving us from the penalty of sin in general, the original sin, and all the sinful deeds. He also saves us from being under the control of sin…

We receive this salvation that the Lord Jesus Christ offered to us, through faith, baptism, repentance, the work of the Holy Spirit within us and through our communion with the Holy Spirit.

The Lord said about that, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved." (Mark 16:16) And St. Peter the Apostle in his sermon on the day of the Pentecost, said to the Jews who believed, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) And St. Paul the Apostle also said, "… according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:4,5)

Here, we have to remember that it is our duty, to be worthy of the salvation that Christ presented to us through redemption, to always live a life of repentance. Because the Lord Himself said, "… unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3,5) And concerning this repentance, St. Paul rebuked the Hebrews saying, "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." (Hebrews 12:4)

So if man’s will becomes weak in resisting sin, let him turn to the Lord Who said, "Without Me you can nothing." (John 15:5) Let him cry to the Lord, as it is said in Jeremiah the Prophet, "Restore me, and I will return." (Jeremiah 31:18) Then he would say with St. Paul the Apostle "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

And so my beloved children, grow continually in grace to reach the life of perfection that the Lord commanded by saying, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Fr. in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Rejoice in the Lord a holy rejoice during this feast and may the Lord be with you and let us always hear good news about you.

Wishing you all a happy new year. Be absolved by the Holy Spirit and you will do well in the Lord. (Acts 15:29)

Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
January 2003

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