Christmas Message 2020
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Christmas Message 2020

Sydney, 24 December 2020.

Message of His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay to the People of the Maronite Church in Australia

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters of our Maronite Eparchy,

His name is “Jesus”, which means “God saves”

1. Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary did not choose the name of Jesus. When the angel Gabriel bore the good news to Mary, he said to her: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus”. (Luke 1:31) Then the angel confirmed this in the revelation to Joseph: “you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:21).

2. Today, on Christmas Day, we stand before the child in the manger, contemplating his divine face. Our eyes are wide with wonder, and hope fills our hearts, as we witness God’s promise of salvation being accomplished. This is the fulfilment of prophecies, and the hope of peoples and nations realised, because the word of God has become a man and dwelt among us. Halleluia!

3. Christmas is more than just another day, and greater than any event, for it is the fountain of good hope which flows forth every day. It is the light which, in every time and place, can sweep away the darkness which lies before us; as Isaiah the Prophet said: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9: 1).

4. God has done everything, even the impossible, for our sakes. He emptied himself, was incarnated from the virgin Mary, and entered our finite world. God, who is infinite, came to save us from our sins and to open the way to his heavenly kingdom. The name “Jesus,” which means “God saves,” is a sign of God’s belonging to the human family, and his granting us the possibility of belonging to his divine family. But he cannot enter our lives and hearts if we do not open the door for him, the door of the firm belief that he alone is our salvation, the truth, and the life. This assurance is renewed for us each day, it is the good hope we have even in the most difficult circumstances and the most trying times.

5. All over the world, humanity has experienced much suffering and many challenges in this year 2020. The Corona pandemic swept the globe, causing the death of more than one and a half million people, paralysing the global economy, and creating a state of panic and fear. It caused fundamental shifts in human lives and human relations, and a major change not only to the implementation of remote learning, but also to remote working. The world after COVID-19 will be different from the one which preceded it.

6. On this holy day, we can only pray to God to put an end to this global tragedy. We see early signs of hope for a treatment to the virus, with tests for a highly successful vaccine which, we pray, is in accordance with our Christian values ​​and ethical principles, for the dignity of every person and the sanctity of life.

7. On this splendid day, I feel bound to send a message of thanks to our governments, both State and Federal, for their tireless work, and their significant and effective efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic here. Their work has been crowned with great success, making Australia the focus of the attention of a world seeking clues for the management of this pandemic. As a result of these preventive measures, the faithful have been able to return to our churches to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and the sacraments, especially on the Feast of Christmas.

8. As for our motherland Lebanon, on this holy day we can only show more solidarity with the Lebanese people, who are living through a tragedy unparalleled in the contemporary history of Lebanon. In addition to the political crisis and corruption – which has for decades been rampant in government departments and state institutions – the explosion in the port of Beirut has increased the suffering of the Lebanese and their pain. This is not only because of the number of victims, the great destruction, and the despair felt by many; but also because of the reluctance of authorities to reveal the circumstances and who is responsible for this terrible crime against Beirut, Lebanon, and humanity.

9. This year’s Christmas comes at a fitting time to reassure all those who are suffering, whether alone or with others, that we have a permanent and constant hope, and His name is “Jesus Christ.” Our faith in him leads us to remember our poor, marginalized, and suffering brethren, and to stand with them in solidarity. That is the true embodiment of the meaning of Christmas. In this context, I would like to extend a word of sincere thanks to all those who have answered the call, contributing generously and abundantly during this year to support the needy in Lebanon, whose numbers are increasing day by day. Today, I invite you to continue giving, in support of struggling families in Lebanon, as they strive to remain steadfast, and to preserve their dignity. Finally, our Eparchy has launched a new initiative, through Caritas Lebanon, titled “Sponsor a Lebanese Family” to help the poorest families over there.


Dearly Beloved,

10. Let us announce with Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary the distinctive and unique message of this feast: “His name is Jesus, which means, God saves.” Following their example, let us walk according to the will of God, so that we may accept Our Lord Jesus Christ in our life and love him as they loved him, and listen to his words as they listened, so that our lives are sanctified as their lives were sanctified.

11. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph, the spouse of Our Lady, as Patron of the Universal Church, His Holiness Pope Francis has declared a “Year of Saint Joseph” commencing from 8 December 2020 and ending on 8 December 2021. During the coming year in our Maronite Eparchy, which will be dedicated to St Joseph, we will make our spiritual journey meditating upon his life and his role in the history of salvation. With a father’s heart, he made of his life an offering which was humbly placed at the service of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary.

12. In conclusion, I offer to you and your families my heartfelt greetings. I am praying with you and for you, so that this feast will be an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord and remove fear from our hearts and anxiety from our souls. I look to the new year 2021 as a new starting point, living together in fraternal and human solidarity. May the name of the Lord Jesus Christ be always the source of blessings, salvation and joy for us all.

Christ is Born… Alleluia!

+ Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
Maronite Bishop of Australia