"We pray that this light may shine in the hearts and minds of the rulers of this world as well as in the hearts and minds of those who govern our region, so that peace, righteousness, and reconciliation may reign over us all,” Theophilos III said. “The work of peace, righteousness, and reconciliation is the responsibility of all people of good will.”
The lighting of this Christmas tree also celebrates all that represents the true character of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the patriarch said.
“This is a powerful reminder that Jerusalem is a beacon for the whole world, especially in the face of the turbulence and violence that affect the lives of so many,” he said. “Christians have become the target of repeated and continuous attacks by radical Israeli groups, especially in the Holy City.”
He noted that, for the past decade, countless crimes have been committed against Christians. “These radical groups are committing their crimes in a deliberate attempt to expel Christians from Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land,” he said. “We long for peace, and so let us not rend this fabric of our historic common life that has provided room enough down the ages for all who call the Holy Land their home.”
The Holy Land has a matchless heritage, he noted. “This simple ceremony of the lighting of a tree shows us the way and shines as a sign of hope in the darkness,” he concluded. “May this season of light and of the hope of new life bring us together in a new resolve.”