Patriarch Twal’s New Year homily

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Patriarch Twal’s New Year homily

Jerusalem(LPJ)

Following is the full text of Patriarch Twal’s homily for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God on January 1, 2014, at the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate:
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Fathers and Sisters,
Dear brothers and sisters, you who make up the big family of the Holy Land,
“The LORD let his face shine upon you, and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:22-27)
As I wish all of you a Happy New Year 2014, I would also like to share with you our Christian hope that our world, our Middle East, our Holy Land are not destined to be in irreversible chaos. Through our actions of mutual support and friendship, however small they may be, we may see “a new heaven and a new earth” emerge. (Rev 21:12) That is why I would like to thank all the religious congregations, lay communities, associations and all who work in prayer, in the apostolate, in solidarity with one another to live the Gospel in faith and in deeds. All together we form a large family. It is a joy to be here today with brothers and sisters gathered around the Virgin Mary our Heavenly Mother, to give thanks for the good things we have achieved together this past year and to ask her Son’s forgiveness for all our failings, our doubts and our lack of fraternal charity.
There is no genuine brotherhood without recognition of the fatherhood of God. An infinitely loving and equitable paternity, making us not only his children, but also brothers and sisters, members of one big family, with the vocation to love.
This preface is the foundation upon which Pope Francis developed his message for the World Day of Peace that we are celebrating today. He tells us “Fraternity is a dowry that every man and every woman brings with himself or herself as a human being, as a child of the one Father. In the face of the many tragedies that afflict the family of nations – poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, conflicts, migrations, pollution, inequalities, injustice, organised crime, fundamentalisms – Fraternity is the Foundation and the Pathway to Peace.”(1)
The Pope reserves a more direct tone against armed conflicts that continue “amid general indifference.” “Rediscover your brother who today you see simply as an enemy to be beaten, hold back your hand!”(2) he said in a “strong appeal” echoing that which he made during his Angelus on September 1, announcing the prayer vigil for Syria and the Middle East. Pope Francis used the words of his predecessor Paul VI before the UN: “Never again war!”
For the Pope, the key to meeting this challenge lies mainly in the fraternity of Christ. The eldest Son of the Father, the Brother of a multitude of brothers, who by His death and resurrection has reconciled all men to Him; it is He who regenerates the fraternity that men alone are unable to generate. Thus, it helps to consider your neighbor not as an enemy or opponent to be destroyed and eliminated, but as a brother.
Thus, “fraternity needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, announced and witnessed (3); “we are each other’s keepers.”(4)
Dear brothers and dear sisters, it is a beautiful programme, not just for a year but for a lifetime. We know that our Holy Land needs this fraternity between peoples, among Jews, Christians and Muslims. We already know that many men and women of good will are working to bring about a more fraternal land with a view to a just, enduring, fair and secure peace. Our Christian vocation demands that we put ourselves at the service of our brothers, of our countries, to support them and contribute to their growth. At the social and humanitarian level, many Catholic associations are working generously to help the people of Gaza and the numerous Syrian refugees arriving into our diocese.
Dear brothers and sisters of the Holy Land, we are all one family. The family is the basic unit where this fraternity is developed. Pope Francis in his encyclical Lumen Fidei, discusses the family in its relationship with faith, which “reveals just how firm the bonds between people can be when God is present in their midst.”(5) The Pope adds that “the first environment in which faith illuminates the city of man is the family.(6) This is why I count on all of you in the new year, now in this Year of the Family in view of the extraordinary Synod in October 2014 dedicated to this theme. The family can participate in the development of a new humanism of fraternity as opposed to “globalization of indifference,”(7) and our Church should recognise “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation” as we are invited to participate through the Synod’s preparatory document.
The mission of proclaiming the Gospel to every creature was directly entrusted by the Lord to his disciples and the Church is the Messenger throughout history. At this time in which we live, the obvious social and spiritual crisis becomes a pastoral challenge to the evangelising mission of the Church for the family, which is the vital nucleus of society and of the ecclesial community.
We seek peace and the risen Christ calls us to transmit it, especially in this land ravaged by conflict for many years. Along with many other religious of the Holy Land, Christians or non-Christians, we are called to build a lasting social peace, without abandoning our faith, but having an attitude of openness in truth and love, firm in our faith and share in the joy of knowing, adapting our discourse so that it can be heard and understood.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust this year that begins with a proposal to engage in real and concrete gestures of love. Our brotherhood must permeate our cooperation in the quest for the common good beyond rivalry and jealousy. And although the cross accompanies us in this Holy Land, we ask for the grace to carry it together with enduring strength. Today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary’s Divine Motherhood, she is our help and comfort in our journey.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear families, I wish you a happy new year in fraternity and peace, as we wait for the Pope’s visit in May, when he comes as a pilgrim and brother of all believers of this Holy Land.

Thu, 01/02/2014 - 15:06
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