OFFICIAL: Christmas 2019
As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is His love for us that He became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with Him.
In Bethlehem, we discover that God does not take life, but gives it. Bethlehem the place where Jesus’ birth took place marks a turning point in the course of history. Bethlehem means ‘house of bread,’ and that Mary laid Jesus in a manger. It is as if He wanted to say: ‘Here I am, as your food’.
In Scripture, we are told that humanity’s original sin was to take and eat a forbidden food. Humankind became greedy and voracious. Even today, people often eat splendid meals while a great many others go without even enough bread to survive. Standing before the manger, we understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity.
We must resist the dazzling lights of consumption at Christmas time, which is a virus that attacks our faith at the roots. Consumerism makes people believe that life depends only on what they own and not on faith. We must overcome the temptation that the meaning of life is accumulation. When we live for material things, they are never enough. Greed grows, people become obstacles in a race and an unhealthy spirit of exploitation and conflict reign supreme. Jesus gives us His very self, teaching us to live our lives in a new way: not by clamouring for power and hoarding selfishly, but by sharing and giving. We feed on Jesus, the bread of life, and are reborn in love, breaking the vicious cycle of grasping and greed to become instruments of His Peace.
At Christmas more than at any other time, there’s a welcome on the mat. Many families have visitors and relatives home for Christmas; and during this season there is also a praiseworthy practice of inviting homeless orphans to spent the day to share a meal with Christian families. Even Pope Francis has espoused the cause of accepting refugees and immigrants who have been dispossessed of their land and property. But among all the greetings and the welcoming of friends, there is one welcome of special depth and meaning. He is the Infant Child who joyfully welcomes us into the heart of God.
At Christmas when He comes to us in the mystery of the Eucharist, He knocks at our door, to enter and eat with us. If we welcome God into our hearts and allow Him to dwell there, history changes. For once Jesus dwells in our heart, the centre of life is no longer our ravenous and selfish ego, but the One who is born and lives for Love.
It is He, our Lord Jesus Christ, who invites us to allow Him to dwell in our hearts. With His help we can make a new beginning as individuals, as family, as a parish and as a community. Come to Jesus this Christmas day and truly experience His lasting Peace, unending Joy and boundless Love.
Oswald Cardinal Gracias Archbishop of Bombay
December 15, 2019