"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)
The Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi celebrated his first Holy Mass on Christmas day at Bkerke as Head of the Maronite Church. The Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and the first lady were attending as well as his excellence the ambassador of the Vatican, along with several other governmental and political figures.
|The beautiful Christmas tree in front of the church of the Resurrection|
at Bkerke front yard
During his homily the Patriarch said that Christmas call is glory, peace and hope. This call is entrusted to us. Christ is the glory, peace and hope of mankind. This is how he is God's gift to the world. The news of the birth of Jesus reached out to the poor and simple shepherds of Bethlehem through the angel: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11). They ran to the place where they were told, they believed and knelt down before him. The good news reached also to the rich and wise men in the Orient through the star in the sky of the Persian land. They went to the place and they also believed and knelt down before him.
Jesus Christ is the real peace, he is the peace for all humanity and he is the prince of peace. With his birth peace was born in the world, and with his cross God reconciled with the World. Peace is a gift from God that we accept, and that we build everyday to become peacemakers: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (Matthew 5:9). Peace is the fruit of justice, and peace upon the world comes by enforcing justice upon every human being. No one can obstruct justice or politicize it.
Jesus is our hope, this hope was born in the hearts of human beings on the day of birth of the prince of peace, of mercy and of justice. This hope has become the duty of the church as well as the civil authorities to enforce justice, peace and truth in society.
The Maronite Patriarch urged the government to work toward a Lebanon free of weapons and called on it to grant amnesty to Lebanese who fled to Israel in 2000. He said that it is the duty of the state alone, entrusted with the security of its citizens and peace in the country, to collect weapons and place them under the sole control of the legitimate Lebanese forces so that Beirut and all of Lebanon can become weapons free. The state needs to be the sole authority on matters relating to security and defense and it has to bring the tasks of defense and security forces under the sole authority of the political power and bolster confidence in its armed forces.
The Patriarch also urged the government to issue an amnesty law for Lebanese who fled to Israel in 2000 saying that we have to reunite the Lebanese and issue an amnesty law for those who forcibly fled under difficult circumstances and took refuge in Israel fearing oppression. He also said corruption in the country needed to be eradicated and called on the state to help citizens face deteriorating economic conditions.
We become peacemakers when we strengthen economic and living conditions and put an end to corruption and then we can resolve conflicts and begin reconciliation, the Patriarch said. He also spoke about the need to have a reliable judicial authority as a way to help end crimes and oppression and that the judicial authority should enjoy complete autonomy and protection and it should be able to put an end to oppression and crime. Finally His Beatitude expressed his hopes with regards to implementing justice and having judges who have courage, integrity and dignity.