Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Hadewych of Meer
home iconNews
line break icon

Naked and abandoned before the manger

Safin Hamed via AFP

Archbishop Samir Nassar - published on 12/24/16

Maronite Archbishop of Damas offers his Christmas meditation in the midst of destruction and loss

[This is the Christmas letter from the Syrian Maronite Archbishop of Damascus. It is translated from the French by Sister Margaret Kerry, FSP. – Ed]

This Christmas Syria looks more like a manger: an open door-less stable, cold, bereft, so poor, and completely destroyed by violence.

The Christ Child isn’t alone in Syria. Millions of children who have lost their homes live without shelter and in tents that are as poor as the Manger in Bethlehem.

Jesus isn’t alone in his misery. Syrian childhood is abandoned and damaged by the scenes of violence. The children wish to be in Jesus’ place. He always had his parents with him. That feeling of bitterness is evident in their eyes, their tears and their silence.

Several Syrian children are jealous of the Christ Child because he found a modest place to be born and sheltered while some of them were born under bombs or on the road to exodus.

The Blessed Mother isn’t alone in her difficulties anymore: miserable less fortunate mothers live in extreme poverty and assume the family responsibilities by themselves, without their husbands who’ve been killed or have disappeared. The poverty of the Manger brings them some solace.

The reassuring presence of Saint Joseph within the Holy Family is a source of jealousy for those families that have been stripped of a father. Such lack feeds fear, anguish and anxiety.

Our unemployed people are jealous of Saint Joseph who could keep the Holy Family from need, hunger and danger when they fled to Egypt.

The shepherds and their herds who were near the Manger speak to the Syrian farmers who have lost their livestock in this war.

The nomad life in this Biblical Land, going back to Abraham and even well before him, is brutally disappearing along with its old traditions of hospitality and traditional culture.

The dogs in Christmas manger scenes have compassion for the domestic dogs in Syria, victims of deathly violence. Dogs so thin that they look like skeletons roaming the ruins as they feed on animal corpses due to the lack of food scraps in the city.

The infernal noise of war suffocates the angels’ Gloria. That Christmas symphony for peace gives its place to hatred, cruel atrocities and global indifference.

May the three Wise Men bring the gifts of which Syria is in great need: Peace, Forgiveness and Compassion.

On this Christmas Jesus smiles on the naked, abandoned Syrian child and invites him to share his manger.

Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damas
(Christmas meditation of 2013, revised in Christmas 2016).

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.