This has been a tough year. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all our lives. The scriptures tell us that after their visit to the new-born Saviour in Bethlehem, the wise men ‘went home by a different way’. The pandemic has also forced many of us to change our ways, to do things differently, nobody has been unaffected.
There have been times during the pandemic when public health requirements restricted our public worship; we were even forced to close church doors at times. However, even in those times, parishes tried to remain open in spirit to everyone. It’s thanks to the creative gifts and commitment of so many people that we remain connected to one another as a family of faith.
With all that’s changing, we need to focus on important values that we would never want to lose. Our Christian faith calls us to be a welcoming people and to reach out to the vulnerable. This faith challenges us to be fair and just in our sharing of the world’s resources. The frailty of our planet also cries out for shared action to hand on our “common home” to future generations. Each time of crisis provides an opportunity which must be seized. These pandemic times bring us to the heart of the Gospel message: what we agree to do as a community is more authentic and lasting than our individual concerns. This is a time for unity and for shared concern for one another.
We need a radical new way of relating and living that brings harmony and sustainability to all of life. We humans are part of the interconnected cosmic web of creation and we need to live a new paradigm of communion with all that is.
Long ago, Francis of Assisi grasped this fundamental reality. He intuitively understood the importance of living not as a self-centred individual but as part of the larger whole. He championed the art of living in deep harmony and communion. Inspired by his namesake, Pope Francis says the awareness of God incarnate in the world that can “motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world” and an “ecological conversion”. We must learn that ‘less is more’. We must learn to envision a new economy that shifts away from consumption and exploitation to one that celebrates radical interdependence and reciprocity within diverse webs of life. Only by taking less from the earth can we move to an alternative model of living in radical harmony and deep connection with the planet.
The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation, we cannot heal the world. Let us follow the footsteps of Jesus as we listen and respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
At Christmas, we pray that through Christ, we will all be united in shared goals:
To look out for and care for one another more;
To reach out to those who have less;
To support those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic;
And to be eternally grateful for the many blessings we have – today and always.
May the Lord of Light shine on you and on your loved ones this Christmas and in the New Year.
I pray, throughout this Christmas season, you will be filled with peace, joy and hope.
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