His Beatitude John X,Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,has once more written a powerful Christmas message for his flock and indeed the whole Orthodox world looking on with interest.In it,the Patriarch firmly roots their faith in their homeland of the Levant,which is today defined as the Eastern Mediterranean and its countries and islands Israel;Palestine;Cyprus;Syria;Lebanon;part of Southern Turkey;and Jordan.His Beatitude also promises redemption from the horrendous suffering which they have felt there because of this faith.Here are some memorable excerpts:
With the mercy of God John X
The Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
To my brethren the pastors of the holy Antiochian Church
To my sons wherever they may be in this Apostolic See*
He came to lay His seal on our hearts so as to cling and adhere to Him and defend our homeland and get deeply rooted in it;to be rooted in our cities,villages and mountains,in the first land,the land of the church of Antioch that then spread the word "Christians" to the whole world.*
We are called to know that the hardest circumstances would not take out from our hearts and our ancestors' a confession other than we received and preserved.We are written down for the sake of Christ.And we received our baptism 2,000 years ago,so we do not need anybody to convert us to Christianity.*
The peace of Christ is first of all a consolation that cures our hardships;it is not a magical substance that takes away the yoke of suffering from us.
Our prayer on this blessed day is for peace in Syria,for settlement in Lebanon and for prosperity in the East.
Our prayer on this blessed day is for Palestine,for Iraq,and for every spot where people have undergone pain and suffering.For more than five years,the Christian Antiochian Church has been crucified by means of pain and suffering that have come out of barbarism,terror,violence and a stifling economic siege.For more than three years the world has been watching the Golgotha of this East,by that I mean bishops to be abducted,priests to be killed,and many other people to be displaced.But this pain and agony shall be broken by the dawn of the resurrection,and by the big stone of the empty tomb being rolled away no matter how long the Golgotha may last.*