Patriarch Abune Mathias Renews Call for End to Conflict in New Year’s Message
Deacon Solomon Kibriye and Archdeacon Tesfa Mikael Williams (Ethiopian Affairs)- OCP News Service– 12/09/2023
Washington DC – United States: Following is the English translation of the new year message of Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia. The official letter was translated by member of our Ethiopian affairs Archdeacon Tesfa Mikael Williams and was edited by Deacon Solomon Kibriye.
New Year Benedictory Message delivered by His Holiness Abunä Matiyas I, Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum, and Ǝĉĉäge of the See of Saint Täklä Haymanot, on the eve of the 2016th year of mercy
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen!!
All Ethiopians at home, in her cities and rural areas,
Those of you throughout the world,
Those of you protecting the borders of our country,
The sick in hospital and those being washed in holy water,
Those of you in prison and correction facilities,
We give thanks to the Lord God, Who provides for His creation by replacing one year with another, and has brought us in peace from the Year of Saint Luke to the Year of Saint John.
‘I considered the days of old; I remembered the years of the world, and I spoke…’ Psalm 76 (77):5
Previous years and seasons are not forgotten; rather, as holy King David teaches us, through the Holy Spirit Who led him and dwelt upon him because of the holy anointing oil with which he was anointed, they continue to be remembered. It is true that they must be remembered, even if we do not desire it, and no one doubts that their memories can be both good and bad.
Years and seasons, like everything else that was created, were created good by God, so that they might serve the creation. Nevertheless, it is true that people have changed them from being good to bad, by their misguided thoughts and actions.
Years and seasons are gifts given for people to live in peace, to plough the earth, and do business by the sweat of their brow; and to lead their lives as is fitting, worshipping the Lord, being educated and gaining knowledge; and when they fall into error, to repent and be corrected. When people use the years and seasons in this way, they are good, and are remembered for being good.
However, when people do not live in peace and love, when they do not give their whole lives over to be renewed by repentance, when they do not use them as a means of benefitting both spiritual and physical life, when they ignore God and are seized by evil spirits, having internal conflict, holding grudges and thoughts of revenge, hatred and heresy and baseless self-love; then the years and seasons become bad, and are remembered for being bad. This truth is something we have seen play out in world history and in the history of our country Ethiopia.
Our beloved Ethiopian sons and daughters through the Holy Spirit,
Our clear minds bear witness that, as we leave the previous year and the seasons we have passed through, these years will not be remembered well. Our minds do not err when we consider how mistakes were made and grew into severe difficulties. If we were discerning, knowing the will of God, and continued to live honourably, we would not have seen all this evil.
Most importantly, the will of God is to stay far from grudges and revenge, to do our work lovingly with agreement and patience, accepting advice from one another. If we persist with grudges and thoughts of revenge, together with toxic and harsh words; rather than hurting one another, we will become just one more another agenda for the world to address.
The years in which we have done these evil deeds, which will be remembered for bad rather than good, have passed away. And even now our evil thoughts and deeds do not appear to have genuinely come to an end. The astounding thing is that, while the source of our problems arises from the heart, the reason for the problems is not proportionate to the destruction taking place. If there was a problem, would we really say, ‘We cannot solve it by dialogue’? When that is asked, no response is given.
If the arguments we are having over borders because of worldly mindedness were rather the principle ‘Ethiopia for the Ethiopians!’ and if we implemented it properly, who would argue with us? Could not the law of the land pass judgement against this? Because of disputes over borders, have we forgotten that the whole of Ethiopia is for Ethiopians? Are we not all children of Ethiopia, with one financial reserve, having one leader over all?
Is there a law or statute that forbids any Ethiopian from travelling from one end of the country to the other when they move there for work? If there was, would it not be better to stand together, and to have it changed through holding consultation? If this is true, you Ethiopian political rivals, elders, diocese representatives and scholars, know that everything that has taken place is not right. Return to a sound mind and make Ethiopia, her peace and unity your only choice. Everything else is beneath this; it will be resolved and fall into place, step by step.
Our faithful children through the Holy Spirit,
We have well understood the all-encompassing pressures we faced in the previous year. If we let it cross over into the new year again, what is the point of the New Year for us? Of what use is it for us to celebrate the New Year if we do not consider and return to our former unity, examining from the heart the mutual mistrust that has taken root among our people in the previous years because of religious, cultural, historical, economic and socio-political factors? We must receive the new year, by repairing all this, leaving behind the harmful things, and strengthening that which is of benefit most of all.
What is it that will benefit our country and her people most of all? We must work seriously. We cannot let the unity of the country and the benefits needed for our people proceed with divisions and rivalries, taking revenge on one another, hating one another, working only to benefit ourselves, and using our strength only when we say, ‘I have found the time now.’ These are the kind of thoughts that are plunging our country and her people into the depths. They must be cast away together with the old year.
In the new year, the guns and other weapons, which kill people in their prime, must be put into warehouses, while we hold dialogue about our problems and let the law pass judgement. We must affirm the sovereignty, unity and freedom of the country and her people. We will be able to let the unity of our country and her people proceed lastingly when we honour the supremacy of the law, when we affirm the equality amongst ourselves, when we realise our mutual benefits, when we support the injured, comfort those who have been attacked, and reconcile those with grievances.
If we arise resolutely in the new year, our peace will return to its former state and our country will be filled with blessings. Therefore, all of you, our Ethiopian sons and daughters, receive our plea and put down your weapons of destruction. Come to the banquet of peace in a spirit of brotherhood. Engaging in dialogue and solving our problems at the round table will allow the unity of our country and her people to proceed. We entrust this task into your hands in the eyes of the Lord Who sees all things.
Once again, in the Name of the Lord, we deliver this fatherly message and pray the new year will be one of peace, love, reconciliation and forgiveness; one in which the displaced will be returned to their own neighbourhoods; one in which the sorrowful will be comforted; one in which justice and uprightness will prevail; one in which the sound of weapons will not be heard; and one of perfect mutual understanding.
May the Lord make the new year one of peace and understanding.
God bless Ethiopia and her people.
Glory to God. Amen.
Abba Matiyas I,
Patriarch of Ethiopia,
Archbishop of Axum,
and Ǝĉĉäge of the See of Saint Täklä Haymanot
The 1st of Mäskäräm, 2016 EC,
Washington DC, USA
OCP News Service