Keynote Address at the General Assembly of CEC – Novi Sad

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II gave the Keynote Address at the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches gathered in Novi Sad – Serbia under the title of: “You Shall be My Witnesses”.

In his speech, entitled “Hospitality”, His Holiness emphasized that “through His incarnation, Jesus reveals to us the nature of God Who is hospitable and kind to the stranger. God’s hospitality emanates from His divine essence as love.”

He added that our Lord “clearly identifies Himself with the needy, thus He becomes the stranger and the foreigner.”

His Holiness spoke about the roots of hospitality in the Scriptures, and assured that “Christians are dwellers of this earth but they do not belong to this world; they are strangers to its logic and foreigners to its ways”.

“This”, His Holiness added, “motivates us to be good ambassadors of our Lord, holding firm to our faith which drives us to give without limits and love unconditionally without judging others.”

His Holiness brought to attention that “Today, we live in a world where people become more self-centered; even a brother can be a stranger to his own brother. Egoism and personal interest guide people’s relations to one another towards alienation and estrangement.”

He then spoke about the hospitality shown by churches towards emigrants or refugees, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, in different countries due to wars and conflicts. “However”, His Holiness noted, “the generosity and hospitality of Europe towards refugees should make churches in Europe concerned about Europe’s religious and cultural identity and its values which are Christian values. This is especially important in light of the spread of secularism and atheism in the world.”

His Holiness then stressed that “Hospitality is sometimes exemplified in the spreading of hope to a person feeling alienated and hopeless; sharing the hope that death and darkness shall not prevail, rather love and kindness unite us all and last forever.”

His Holiness concluded: “let us all invite the Lord into our lives and allow Him to work through us in helping our less fortunate brethren. Let us not be afraid from opening our hearts, churches and homes to the needy who seek refuge and survival. Let our minds be open to host the will to love one another the way our Lord loved us.”

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