The Light of Christmas
The dark season in which night appears to swallow up the day, and the anxieties of life and the demands of work wear us down, in which the rebuilding of strained relationships after the break during pandemic and the struggle to continue reasonably comfortable living in the midst of rising costs, our world seems to be losing its moral compass and a sense of uncertainty prevails.
At this time, we long to listen to the melody of the angels. We want to hear the message of Christmas. We need to understand the real message from the angels and not merely live a fleeting, sentimental meaning of Christmas. Would that this happen?
We need a courageous willingness to make real the drastic change in our lives and in our world, to align our wills to God's plan for joy and peace for all.
It is this spirit of the core values of his compassionate and reconciling love that the birth of the infant child inspires us to mirror and what Christmas calls us to live.
This Christmas we are facing enormous challenges as visibly seen in the horrendous Ukraine-Russian war even beyond the unprecedented tragedies of past wars and the world wars of years gone by. This is the time we are confronted with the biggest global tension we have faced since the cold war ceased decades ago. Floods, earthquakes, corruption, civil unrest, widespread suffering, the recent pandemic, and other tragedies like, poverty, and persecution continue to be facts of life. The inhumanity of missile bombings and the financial fallout from one leader’s ambition of hegemony have left a trail of savage destruction that is unimaginable.
This season of light cannot fully be appreciated without recognizing the enveloping darkness. We mentioned one conflict: unexpected, unprecedented, unpredictable, and all enveloping, which has caught the world’s attention. But on the global level, many are the nations going through great turmoil: political, social and economic, with harm to peace and tranquillity in society. It is in this world that Christmas is coming, and the angels appear with words of comfort and joy. The darkness cannot win, and the darkness will not win as long as we recognize the light and become light-bearers ourselves. We are called to listen to the angels’ song of peace, and the infant’s cry to make it a reality in our lives. It requires a concerted global responsibility to vehemently bring about the radical transformation of the situation that God wills.
We sing the hymn, “Joy to the World,” and it is a hymn for this very moment in time. “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.” Right now, amid all that frightens us, and all that we are anxious about, the impact of the past and concerns about the future we recognize that God is here, and light triumphs. There was nothing idyllic about that first Christmas in the messy stable with a houseless family; and there may be nothing idyllic about our Christmases as well. But we can still find peace and joy because that is the world that Jesus Christ came into.
As Christians we confront the challenge of climate change because it is God’s world that we seek to preserve with our care for creation. It is God’s people that needs to see that climate change does not become worse. For if it continue to rage unchecked around the world it will result in a catastrophic crisis that will destroy our world. We need to pray about that, act on that, speak about that, and take part in the change that is needed.
We look forward in hope. We meet and we celebrate that we belong to one another with all our differences: one family celebrating the arrival of the long awaited Child-Jesus. Bishops, priests, religious, lay faithful and all people of good will must come together in synodality from all over the world to make the world a better home. All need to join together to pray, to think, to learn, to make a commitment to tell people of the hope that is found only, and uniquely, in Jesus Christ. We need to walk together harmoniously, listening to one another, discerning the voice of the spirit, and going ahead in our project to build a more peaceful and happy world.
We are a fellowship, a community of believers, sisters and brothers in Christ of all ages and cultures. God has brought us together. Let us do God’s work together and come together in heaven through the salvation He offers us.
May God grant you Christ’s joy this Christmas, Christ’s hope in this coming year and may Christ’s peace be your constant companion. This is my personal, affectionate and prayerful wish for each one of you. A Happy Christmas.
+Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay