Christmas Day is with us once more – ushering us into the glorious joy of the Eternal embracing the human race. The angels sang “Glory to God” and a special star in the heavens signalled an extraordinary, grace-filled event endowing Peace to the world. The shepherds, inspired by the hymn of the Angels, rush to worship the newborn King. The Magi, spurred by a spiritual reflection, discerned a special divine intervention, and proceeded to worship Him. A perfect paradigm for Synodality!
The Christmas event, the most transformative for all the world, impacts every aspect of human existence and activity. The universal Church is enthusiastically responding to Pope Francis’ call for Synodality. The first session of the Synod of Bishops has recently concluded in Rome. We realise that the Synodal path has everything to do with the message of Christmas.
On the first Christmas Day, Our Lord came into the world to walk with man and woman, and to encourage all to walk together in harmony. Synodality simply means walking together. Jesus’ coming on earth makes us one family – all children of our Father in heaven, and brothers and sisters in one big family that walks together.
Christmas is a family feast. It is an occasion when the family gathers from all corners of the world, spending quality time together, strengthening bonds and deepening them. In the family, none is excluded—weaknesses, differences of opinion, or inability to contribute do not lead to exclusion from the family!
Synodality implies unity, it implies harmony, and it implies peace. That is what belonging to one’s family implies. Christmas brings the unity, harmony and peace of Nazareth to all families. With the Incarnation, the spirit of Nazareth comes to dwell in every family, and every home becomes Nazareth. One of the consequences of becoming a family is that all its members get inter-related. There are no more strangers in the land, and there are no outsiders. None is excluded, not even people with different gender orientations. All are connected, and all are in COMMUNION.
Our baptism into one faith in God gets us connected; our humanity gets us connected; our being inhabitants of Mother Earth gets us connected and calls us to care for Creation. By growing in the awareness of our solidarity in communion with all, we deepen and realise even more: communion with God, with our neighbour, and with Nature.
Christmas also brings with it a call to MISSION. We are not a static community, but always walking together towards the goal—a family walking to our heavenly home, pilgrims of faith, hope and love. Having nourished ourselves in the Eucharist, the Divine Child strengthens us to share His spirit with the world, thereby transforming it and giving glory to its rightful master - the King of Kings - and using all the gifts of the Earth for this mission. Our communion encourages us to assist one another along the path of mission.
Christ became man, with the mission to bring back sinners, not expel them from the family. Christmas is a time for PARTICIPATION of all and for all. Christmas is the time to forget past hurts and differences, to overcome past disagreements. Christmas is the season to ensure that nothing ever comes between us, so that the family remains united. Our hearts are open, and our arms are extended to embrace all.
Christmas is the time for bringing to our homes the joy of God’s presence among us. The New Year is just around the corner. A grace-filled Christmas and a happy New Year to you. Let us walk more confidently and more unitedly, beginning ever anew in the spirit of Synodality.
+Oswald Cardinal Gracias Archbishop of Bombay