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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Nativity 1999

My beloved sons in the lands of immigration, priests and congregation.

My peace and love, wishing for you all goodness from the Lord. Hoping that you are all growing in grace and in the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I congratulate you on the Feast of the Nativity and for the beginning of a New Year, may it be new for you in all things and especially for your spirituality.

Amongst the words that I remember on the occasion of the Feast of the Nativity, is what was said about His Incarnation, that He, "went about doing good." (Acts 10:38) Goodness is not only leaving sin, for this is only the negative side. The important thing however, is the positive side. That is, doing good with everyone, in order that everyone that meets us on the path of life will gain goodness by all means.

The Bible said about this positive goodness that, "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17) Hence, sin is not merely committing evil or impurity, but not doing good, also is a sin. This is not the case only in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament. The Bible says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Goodness is not only in materialistic giving, but in spiritual giving also: in the ministry, in a good word, in a word of advice, in a word of benefit, in a word of sympathy, in a word of kindness and compliment by which you gain friends. Doing good is leading people to goodness, and in the soft answer, which turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)

You are able to do good by comforting wearisome souls, as the Lord Jesus Christ said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28). You can do good by having a happy, smiling appearance. By this, people will be pleased when they see you.

You do good if you are able to share in mission work, or by conveying the word of God to those who do not know, or conveying the faith to unbelievers. Ministry in the Church is doing good, do not let Satan plant tares through the path of division and selfishness.

My beloved sons and daughters, place this principle in front of you in this New Year, that, in every day you do not do good, do not count it as days of your lives.

God created you in His image and He is the Beneficent One. So you likewise be, in the image of Your Heavenly Fr., beneficent as He is. Let this not only be when people ask from you of this good for themselves, or rather let it be without their asking. May you possess the sensitivity towards people’s needs, and present it to them, and do not wait until they ask.

May you possess the sensitivity with which you realize what makes people happy and try to please them. In this manner, you go about doing good.

May the Lord be with you, and may He let me hear all good about you at all times.


Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
January 6, 1999

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

January 7, 1999