Good wishes for a happy feast!
12 September 2016 AD/ 10 Dhul Hijjah 1437 AH
In the Middle East, it is a thing of beauty to see feasts of faith becoming feasts for the children of faith. Indeed, our Muslim and Christian feasts are common feasts: this was and always will be so in our Eastern countries.
Thus blessed Eid ul-Adha unites us through the story of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son. That is why Abraham is called our father in faith, as he is one “with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself.1” The story is a lesson for us all, since God, having called upon Abraham to sacrifice his son, then required him to spare his life, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad.” (Genesis 22: 12 cf. Surah As-Saffat 37: 105) This divine revelation in Scripture was a lesson aimed at abolishing child sacrifice as an expression of faith in God. This passage calls on us all rather to form a united front to defend life, which is a divine gift to mankind. That is why Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 10) God says, “I desired mercy and not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6: 6) As in the venerable Qur’an, God is “merciful and compassionate.”
It is to this that Eid ul-Adha calls us. Adha is the feast of life! Adha is the feast for working to preserve human life and dignity. This feast is a summons to all of us Christians and Muslims to make every effort to preserve life. Adha is a call to set up an international Muslim-Christian pact for life, to defeat takfiri ideology that kills arbitrarily, pretending that it is killing for faith!
The values of Eid ul-Adha are common to us Muslims and Christians! That is why I am glad to offer my cordial good wishes to my dear Muslim brothers and sisters, expressing my solidarity with them and my love, as I did in my Letter from an Arab Christian Patriarch to his Muslim brethren.
I offer these good wishes to all my dear brethren, in my name and that of our Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, and the Churches, because I write these good wishes during the holding of the Middle East Council of Churches, in which I am participating. They all wished to affirm the importance of the Christian presence in the cradle of Christianity and the departure point for Islam, so that we may remain together side by side with and for our Muslim brothers and sisters, to build together the civilisation of life and love for our future generations.
+ Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
1 - Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions Nostra Aetate No. 3 (1965)