Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem which is God’s loving entry into human history. As St. Paul says in the letter to the Philippians God shares the divine nature with us human beings.
“Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness” (Philippians 2/6-7).
In this mystery of the Incarnation God revealed to us the depth of his abounding love for humankind. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3: 16).
By his coming into our World Jesus wants us to share in the fullness of life which he alone can give (John 10/10). This unfathomable love of God is the cause of our joy at Christmas Jesus accompanies us and dwells with us. The name given to Jesus is Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. Hence, our celebration of Christmas cannot and should not be a mere recalling of a past event. It is an occasion to understand more deeply the real depth of our Christian faith and value of life to witness to its fullness in the society we live in.
As Jesus came in search of us into our world, we too need to invite Jesus into our lives, our families and our society. This seemingly simple birth in a stable in Bethlehem is a universal call towards conversion so that we would be more sensitive to the needs of others irrespective of differences. Although Christmas is a joyful season, we need to be careful not to make it merely an external celebration. The true and inner joy of Christmas comes from the conversion of heart and accepting Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives. We need to concentrate more on the spiritual aspect of Christmas rather than on the external fanfare particularly in the aftermath of the tragedy that befell our people last Easter Sunday.
As Jesus was born among the poor, we are invited to pay careful attention to the poor and be sensitive to the various forms of human needs and sufferings prevailing in our society. While we engage in various forms. of charitable activities during Christmas. The question of poverty can be alleviated only by creating just economic structures. True development of human beings can happen only in a society where there is mutual respect, justice and peace. A sincere commitment of everyone is needed in creating this environment in our country. This country has witnessed a free and fair
election and there is hope among the people to see the dawn of a healthy political culture devoid of corruption and injustice. The economic development that is needed should be a sustainable one; which respects and safeguards the day to day life of the people and the environment.
Let us commit ourselves to change all that which is not in keeping with God’s holy will in our midst by becoming agents of peace, harmony and reconciliation and by forgetting the petty differences which hinder the common good. As we give thanks to God for the beautiful gift of Jesus, let us pray that all of us will be renewed by the Spirit to be His living witnesses to make our world a loving one.
We wish all our Faithful, our fellow citizens and all men and women of goodwill a Blessed Christmas!
Rt. Rev. Dr J. Winston S. Fernando, SSS
Bishop of Badulla,
President, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka.
Rt. Rev. Dr J.D. Anthony Jayakody
Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo
Secretary-General, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka.