Christmas is a festival of love, harmony, joy and celebration. It is also a call to share because basically it is God who shares his divine Son with us. That is why people from all walks of life come together to rejoice and celebrate this day to express their internal joy by decorating their homes with lights, candles and Christmas trees. People exchange sweets and gifts; and visit their friends to share their joy of Christmas. Christmas carols are one of the best ways to announce the joy of the birth of Christ and to spread his life giving message of truth, justice, love, mercy, forgiveness and brotherhood. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” Jh 14:6. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn10:10). Yes! Christ is the ‘Dawn of new life’ in the world that is darkened by sin and its consequences. He is the light that was sent to dispel the darkness of sin and enlighten our lives. He is that hope which people longed for. He came to forgive our sins, redeem us and restore our lost dignity. To enable us to achieve our redemption he has shown us the way of repentance, love, charity, mercy and forgiveness. He invites us to come to him with all our heavy burdens (Cf. Mt 11:28). He is the comforter of afflicted humanity. He has no demand from us except that we must give up sin in all its forms, repent and walk his way.This year we celebrate Christmas in the midst of COVID-19; without the streets, markets and Churches full of people, without much noise, fanfare, pomp and show. The fear of COVID-19 is weighing heavy on our minds as it has already claimed lakhs of precious lives of our brothers and sisters besides inflicting crores of people all over the world rendering innumerable people jobless and with no means of sustenance. Yet there is a Christmas because God is with us. He is born for us to take our affliction upon himself and to show the way to new life. We celebrate Christmas because we need this divine light in the midst of so much darkness of sin, infidelity, injustice, affliction, fear, pain, suffering and terror. The mother earth and the Universe too are crying for restoration as our ecology has become very fragile due to excess of human interference caused by developmental activities. We need this divine light to sing his praises and restore our fallen world, to enlighten those who have lost hope, to strengthen those who have become weak.For this above mentioned reasons, my wish for this Christmas and New Year is that we all join Christ in restoring human dignity by walking His way and embracing the universal brotherhood. Let us make sustained efforts to see and honour in others the precious human person like that of one’s own self. We shall work to promote fraternity among all humankind, fraternity among individuals of every nation, region and culture, fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another and fraternity among persons of different religions, beliefs and faiths. Jesus came to reveal the face of God to all those who seek him. Let us become now that face for our needy brothers and sisters around us.To accomplish this task, we have beautiful role models in the scripture to be imitated. They inspire and enlighten us in the ways of God. For this reason we should not hesitate to imitate our Mother Mary in her single hearted devotion to God, her purity, humility, simplicity, love and faith. We are called to imitate St. Joseph in his great zeal and obedience to do what the Lord commands. We need to imitate the Angles in announcing the birth of Christ to the people around us. We need to have believing hearts like that of the Shepherds, willing to acknowledge, visit and follow Redeemer. We need to be like ‘Star’ leading others to Christ. We need to be like Magi’s searching for Christ diligently. We can find ample opportunities in our lives to put on these role models in different situations of our lives. Our celebration of Christmas must be continued by bearing witness, proclaiming His Good News and leading people to Christ.Friends! May this Christmas help us rediscover the bonds of fraternity linking us together as individuals and joining all people especially the millions who are sick, suffering, displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance and food security. May this blessed Christmas allow once more to recover social harmony and enable all the members of society to work fraternally for the development of different countries and to aid the most vulnerable sections of the population.I invite all of you to join me in this Christmas prayer: Son of God! Come down to the earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to Pandemic, injustices, life threatening diseases are disillusioned, frightened and have lost hope and means of sustenance. Bring your light to people suffering from war and conflicts in the world and specially those who are driven out of their home due to internal disturbance and terrorism. Bring comfort to people who still see no end to the hostilities that they face in their respective countries. Stir the consciences of men and women of good will. Inspire Governments and the international community to find solutions to allow the people to live together in peace and security, and put an end to their unspeakable sufferings. Lord bless the efforts of all those who work to promote paths of reconciliation in political, social and religious life ensuring the development and well-being of all.Wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!Ivan Pereira
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