BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA,
ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT AND ALL AFRICA
TO THE FULLNESS OF THE APOSTOLIC AND PATRIARCHAL THRONE OF ALEXANDRIA
GRACE AND MERCY AND PEACE BY OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST BORN IN BETHLEHEM
“Jesus Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).
My dear brothers and sisters,
Man was created with a peaceful nature by the God of love. And the relationship between mankind and his Creator in paradise was totally peaceful. However, from the moment that mankind raised his ego as a banner of rebellion, this peaceful relationship with God was disrupted. From the moment that mankind elevated his personal will over the will of God, peace fled from his heart. That is when the “barrier of the dividing wall” was raised between God and mankind.
This dividing wall was broken down by the Incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus Christ hovered between heaven and earth, stretched out His arms and made peace between earth and heaven. He united mankind with God and created a new humanity, bringing peace. This peace has a dual direction: it is a reconciliation of mankind with God, as well as a reconciliation of people among themselves. Our Lord became a guarantor of peace, as the cornerstone of the body of the Church.
He called on us to become compassionate, by harnessing our ego. He called on us to consider as our neighbor, as well as God’s, the one who is compassionate. That person who obviously supports others, not because there is a racial, national or religious relationship between them, but because it is demanded of his heart. He taught us compassionate love as the only measure of our faith, our intentions and our actions.
Yet people often fail to honestly pose this question to themselves: am I a good neighbor to my fellow humans? They continue to raise their own dividing wall, hoping in vain to exclude the misery of the world. Still, the dividing wall is corroded by the tears of those seeking help. The dividing wall is demolished, as were the walls of Jericho, by the laments of the desperate. The dividing wall is conquered by armies of those in need who have only the battering ram of despair.
My dear brothers and sisters,
The refugee crisis which has struck and broken down the doors to Europe, has proved in practice that however many walls are erected, as many fences as are spread, as many minefields as are planted, desperation breaks the impermeable and seeks practical understanding. However, if thousands are struggling to escape from the furnace of civil war in Syria, there are millions in Africa and the Middle East who consider Europe as the Promised Land, the land that they strive to approach, endangering even their lives.
Today, the measure of our compassion ought to be not only our readiness to support the refugee, irrespective of his blood composition, the color of his skin or his religious convictions. Our compassion is judged by the readiness of our Christian conscience to rebel and to demand not simply the control of the crisis, but the solution to the reasons which stoke it.
And the solution will come only if the import of misery is replaced by the export to the homelands which are bleeding, of the values which flourished and bore fruits in Europe, and on top of this list must be Christian love. Only then will this endless human river of misery be halted, and also then will the hatred of terrorism cease to be smuggled aboard the boats of despair.
St Basil the Great said: “We do an injustice to as many as we could assist” (Homily on greed, PG 31, 276Α-277Β). I would add that we do an injustice to ourselves too, when we allow the thorns of terrorism to take root in the fields of misery. Therefore let us not sow denial as we will continue to reap the despair of others and our own fear. Let us sow love and peace, as our Lord did, He who was born for the evangelisation of peace to all mankind, “to those far off and to those close by” (Ephesians 2:17).
† THEODOROS II
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria
Feast of the Nativity 2016