CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2020
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. (cf. John 1:1-14) .
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Christ,
The celebration of Christmas this year is so different. Our minds are preoccupied with the fear of covid19. Indeed the whole world is united not in jubilation as Christmas would usually bring, but instead, we are united in fear! We are wondering if our family members, our friends, our neighbours, and our human race even at the present level of advancement in medical science will be able to sustain this terrible pandemic virus. We are facing an uncertain future.
Since the emergence of the covid19, we have been witnessing the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the societies throughout the world. The impact is certainly more devastating on the poor, migrants and the vulnerable. Signs of mental health-related issues are already apparent in our society. Cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide, and depression are rising as reported in both local and international media.
Few would have foreseen that this pandemic covid19 would have such prolong devastation, chaos and confusion on our daily life – our economic and social life. We certainly did not foresee that the empty Churches during Easter celebration in April would be again the feature scene of Christmas celebration this year. Normally, we packed the churches’ pews on Easter and Christmas, or even many of the faithful, as they devotedly fulfil their religious obligation, would have to stand outside our Churches. For this year, fulfilling our religious obligation on Christmas would not be a straight forward affair. Those who can get admitted to join the Mass must observe the strict SOPs such as physical/social distancing and other restrictions. And for the most of us, our prayers would occur and confine mostly at home and in cyberspace as already been the “new normal” practice in the Church today. Festivities at the community level will not be possible at the present circumstance and even family Christmas celebration is strictly limited to immediate family members only.
In midst of this “new normal” and life’s uncertainty, frustration, devastation, and confusion we can be optimistic about the future and hopeful that tomorrow will be better! We must be strong in faith as we are assured of the Lord’s presence in our life. The Gospel on Christmas morning says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” It is indeed a great consolation to know that our Lord and saviour is dwelling among his people! God who is divine and all holy has become one of us. In this way, Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God shares all that we are; our emotions – our joy, our fears, our struggles – in short, he knows our predicaments and shares our stories as a human being. From the gospel stories, we read how Jesus encountered various people, the people who were close to him such as his Apostles, the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus (Cf. Jn 11: 1-5), the rich young man who wanted to follow him (Cf. Mat. 19:20-22) and many others who were eager to hear him speak (cf. Lk. 5:15). In these and many other instances, Jesus showed his love and compassion towards those in needs. Equally, he also shares our experience of distress and uncertainties in life and shows compassion and love towards us.
Indeed, the Eternal Word of the Father lives among us; he is Emmanuel – God-with-us (Cf. Rev 21:3). The Son of God is in our midst not just giving us confidence and hope in him but more importantly to call us together into one body (cf. Col. 3: 15) that truly reflects a Christian community of faith. He calls us to be caring, compassionate, and ready to extend our hands to help those in needs, especially those financially and socially impacted by covid19 so that they can stand on their own feet and move on in life. As St. Paul says, “Let all these things be done in a way that will build up the community” (1Cor. 14:26).
Thus, in the light of Christian faith, we face the threat of covid19, a virus that does not choose its victim and knows no borders, by uniting ourselves with the rest of humanity to stop the spread of this killer virus. There is a glimmer of hope as the news about some well-known companies around the world have already manufactured vaccines that are said to be safe and effective to combat covid19. Good news indeed! But it will be quite some times before such vaccines become widely available. In the meantime, we need to be vigilant all the time by adhering to the government’s safety protocol, by so doing not only protecting ourselves from being infected but also preventing the virus from infecting others as well. In other words, the whole human society must come together in unity to fight against the virus. Human solidarity and with a concerted effort of all lies the answer to this crisis.
As already mentioned, most of the Christian faithful around the world celebrate Christmas this year without the possibility of receiving Holy Communion physically, no possibility of celebrating as a community in the Church as we usually do. Nevertheless, we are confident that we can still be in communion with the Lord albeit spiritually. Perhaps this crisis is also a blessing in disguise; there is more time available for us, as individual and as a family, to reflect deeply that Christ who was born in a manger in Bethlehem is now born in the family and the heart of each of us. In the darkness of the night in Bethlehem, the light of newly born Saviour shone brightly as the sun. Similarly, in the darkness of this crisis, with the birth of Jesus, there is a new ray of hope as we live our lives in the light of faith. With the birth of Christ Jesus in our hearts, tomorrow will be brighter again for all of us.
As the saying goes “Let us pray for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
BLESSED AND GRACE-FILLED CHRISTMAS TO ALL