January 2017 Letter
We send you our congratulations for the new Gregorian year 2017, asking the Lord to make it a happy year for everyone. Moreover congratulations for the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ the King of peace, for whom we pray to bring peace to His church and the whole world. On the occasion of Christmas the writings of the late Pope Shenouda III about nativity entitled: “Emmanuel which means God is with us” is very inspiring:
“Beautiful is the name by which Christ was called on His birth: ‘Emmanuel … God is with us’. The name carries a lot of condolence as it carries a lot of God’s love for us. This is the blessings of nativity: to feel that Christ is God with us, God in our midst, dwelling with us and in us. God indeed loves man, his joy is in human beings. He loves to give man the thrill of being with Him, and loves to have the human heart a place for His dwelling. Ever since the creation of man, He created him in His own image and likeness, and wanted to make him the place of His residence, He wanted to dwell in man’s heart and reside in it.
“The dwelling of God with man and in the midst of them is an old story. It’s the story of the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, in which we see God dwelling among His people. The significance of the tabernacle is the residence of God with man; as well as the significance of the heavenly Jerusalem in eternity, of which was said: ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them’ (Rev 21: 3)
“God who came into the womb of St Mary and took flesh, wants to come inside you to fill you with love … The best dwelling of God is in you. God is not pleased by heaven for His dwelling, but is standing at your door knocking in order to open up to Him (Rev 3: 2). He considers your body a temple for His Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God dwells in him (1 Co 3: 16). His real heaven is your heart; thus, He asks you always saying: ‘My son, give me your heart …’ (Pro 23: 26). God doesn’t want anything from you except your heart to dwell in it … all your worship and prayers are merely rituals if God doesn’t have a residence within your heart.
“God wants to have a friendship with you. The Scripture says: ‘And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him’ (Gen 5: 24). A beautiful scene is to imagine Enoch walking with God. A person who feels that God is in front of him cannot make mistakes, he will feel ashamed of God and says: behold, God sees me while I’m working, behold, God hears me while I speak.
“The phrase “God is with us” was not meant to be Emmanuel with us only during His incarnation but is always with us. Thus, says the Lord: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat 28: 20).
“The blessing of nativity in concentrated in the phrase: Emmanuel God is with us”. So if you feel that you are with God and He is with you, then you have really enjoyed the blessings of Christmas”.
May the blessings of Emmanuel be with us all, to dwell among us and in our hearts always. Wishing you a happy new year full of peace and happiness.
Belleville, January 1, 2017