Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch


Dear Church of Antioch clergy and friends,

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, revered among Christians as the Prince of Peace. For over two thousand years, followers of Christ have extolled his teachings as an antidote to the chaos and strife of the world, a sure path to peace and tranquility. Yet despite two millennia of human effort, the peace on Earth that the angels sang of on the blessed night of the Savior’s birth still eludes us and the path to peace seems increasingly challenging, complicated, and convoluted.

Nowhere at present is this more evident than in Ukraine and Russia and in Gaza and Israel. In Bethlehem, the City of Peace, the place of the Savior’s birth, there will be no public celebrations of Jesus’ birth this year, a sobering reminder of how far humanity has stayed from his teachings and how blatant our failings are. This year more than ever our joy at the birth of Christ is mingled with grief and sorrow. We need not be surprised that the joy of Christ’s birth should be mingled with grief and sorrow. Were not grief and sorrow also evident in the Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth? Was he not lain in a manger, symbolic of the tomb that would claim his body after the Crucifixion? Was he not wrapped in swaddling clothes, symbolic of the burial cloth in which he would be buried?

Beyond that, however, there is cause for joy and optimism. For, was he not also raised from the dead and ascended into heaven? Because he was, we have his assurance that despite the apparent condition of the world, the peace of Christ will eventually come about. Did he not say, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.” (Jn 12:32) As the Ascended Prince of Peace, all things are indeed being drawn to him, but not without resistance. We must be vigilant in our thoughts and in our actions, in our attitudes and in our words about the conflicts we see in our world, lest we inadvertently give them strength by the power of our thoughts. Not only do we need to exercise custody of our thoughts, but we also need to consciously strengthen thoughts of peace by prayer, meditations for peace, and by actions designed to radiate loving kindness to all.

Christmas messages are generally meant to elicit feelings of wonder and awe at the mystery of the Incarnation, perhaps mixed with a bit of feel-good sentimentality thrown in for good measure. The sense of wonder and awe should remain with us despite the condition of the world; for how awesome is it that God should choose to empty God’s very Self and become human to dwell among us as one of us? However, our present world conditions call us to eschew sentimental nostalgia about Christmas and instead enjoin us to embrace a more active participation in the process of creating peace. As I have done so often the past, I encourage each of you yet again to discern what contributions you can make toward spreading the peace of Christ on Earth and to make those contributions robustly and unreservedly. Christ is depending on us to do our part toward awakening humanity to the promise and potential of his peace. Any contribution we make, no matter how small or insignificant we may think it to be, moves our world in the right direction.

May the wonder and awe of Christ’s birth fill you with joy, hope, and the will to work for his peace.

With sincere wishes for a very blessed Christmas, I remain your brother in Christ,

+Mark Elliott Newman

Presiding Bishop – Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch



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