CARDINAL OSWALD'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2018
Heralding Tidings of Great Joy
AT CHRISTMAS, in the words of the Gospel of St Luke, we are summoned by angels to the crib in Bethlehem to sing Glory to God on high and peace to people of goodwill-for God has come into our world! The angels’ song captures the heart of the Christian message. At Christmastide, we too will herald tidings of great joy to people aching to hear of God’s love for them, for us, for all the world.
As we gather at the nativity tableau, we find in the figures of the crib the story of the authentic human response to Christmas. In the shepherds is seen every struggle to survive and encounter God in a harsh and demanding world. The wise men represent affluence and learning, without arrogance or superiority, ready to humbly receive rather than condescendingly parade knowledge.
Then we see Joseph, the guardian of Jesus and Mary, representing all who act as our guardians, those who maintain order and administer justice. We have Mary, the mother, who nurtures the child entrusted to her, conscious of His every need, and remaining so until she stands at the foot of the cross, collaborating with Him in the work of salvation.
The invitation to come to the crib ushers us into an encounter with the great joy of God in our midst. God is with us, always, everywhere. His name is Emmanuel, ‘God-with-us’. His lowly birth means that He is within the reach of every person. We need to journey with Him so that we may feel our hearts burning to proclaim and witness to the glory of His name and the power of His presence. This is precisely the message of Pope at the World Synod of Bishops to harness the creative power of youth to witness to the saving mission of Christ.
At the heart of this great news is God’s abiding presence in our world and in our lives. In Jesus, born in the stable, we see the face of God’s mercy to bring us the boundless mercy of God. We can come to the immensity of God’s astounding Love, present in this Infant- Child full of goodness and unconditional acceptance. This joy urges us to extend to others the mercy and acceptance that we ourselves first received.
On this cold and silent night Christ was born in heavenly peace. God was born in a crib without pomp or the trappings of wealth. In this ambience of indigence, there is no fertile soil for greed to goad our base human instincts to rapacious forays on mother earth, resulting in cataclysmic climate change. All are called to be gentle and mild as heaven and nature sing in harmony and serene peace. This is the Christmas call to green our earth.
This Christmas beckons us to lay aside our own tendencies to hate and violence so that we may condemn with integrity, those who commit violence in the name of God. We pray for the victims of violence in many parts of the world specially our brothers and sisters who suffer grievously for our faith, to turn swords into plough shares as instruments of peace.
At the crib, we learn these lessons: ‘No’ to all violence against the innocent! ‘Yes’ to mercy, received and given! Then, indeed our world, our families and environment will be more grace-filled places. Young and old and all people of goodwill will proclaim indeed that Christmas is the good news of great joy, that Christ the Light has come to scatter the darkness of the sin of our world.
I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas indeed!
Oswald Cardinal Gracias Archbishop of Bombay