By His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias –
Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ Himself. Jesus is the radiant ‘day’ which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed His great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a ‘great joy’ for the poor, the lowly and for all the people.
On this day Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:12) Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church.
Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community every time it receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. He is truly the Saviour, for He is the Lamb of God who takes upon Himself the sin of the world. (cf Jn 1:29) Hence, He alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanity insoluable situation.
Yet precisely where the Incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built. May dialogue and negotiations for reconciliation between conflicting individuals, broken families and warring countries be resumed so as to enable us to live together in harmony.
Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity. Yet even today, great numbers of men an women are deprived of their human dignity, and like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty and rejection. May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially children who are abused, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking, drug trade and wars who are forced into exile and free as refugees.
May Christmas remind us that we too are called, both individuals and states, to generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which received them.
On this festival day, may the Lord grant renewed hope to all those who are marginalized; may He sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and protect the dignity of every human life.
Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this season of Christmas, when we are called to discover that the tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us today. Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show the merciful embrace of God.
I wish that everyone be able to welcome into their lives the mercy of God that Jesus Christ has given us; to be merciful to others. Then we will allow the Peace, Joy and Love of Christmas to grow!
A Holy and Happy Christmas to each one of you!