Dear Fathers / Brothers / Sisters and my dear people,
The Corona pandemic that has turned the world upside down has also highlighted, as Pope Francis has pointed out, our interdependence. As members of the human family, we depend on each other. We need each other. We cannot remain indifferent to what happens to our brothers and sisters. We need to reach out to them with compassion. The Holy Father challenges everyone to journey together in the task of healing the Covid stricken world. In his many addresses to the world on life after the Pandemic, Pope Francis speaks emphatically and passionately on the need for solidarity (Healing the World). The incessant rains and floods and their devastating effects in the past few weeks underlined the need for solidarity and compassionate service.
It is in this context, that I would like to look at our celebration of Christmas this year. I always want to exhort our Priests, Religious and the Faithful to avoid pomp, extravagance and unnecessary expenses and to concentrate more on helping the poor and the needy. But this year, it becomes absolutely mandatory to concretely help the poor and the marginalized. A simple celebration with much focus on the poor and the lowly will certainly be in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas. After all, the mystery of Incarnation is the greatest manifestation of God’s solidarity with the suffering humanity.
Let me therefore, appeal to the Priests and Religious in the diocese to make conscious, concerted and extra efforts this year to help our poor people. I do not need to explain in detail their present pathetic situation. How many of them are struggling without even the bare necessities of life? We can certainly bring them a ray of hope in this Christmas Season. Our good Catholics who have the means to come to the aid of the less fortunate brethren must generously come forward to help. Their Christmas will become more meaningful and joyful when they make the poor and the marginalized happy.
Solidarity, my dear friends, does not consist merely in doing some sporadic acts of kindness and generosity. Pope Francis reminds us that solidarity is essentially a matter of justice (Healing the World). Therefore we need to realize that while caring for the neglected and the excluded is commendable what is even more important is to ensure their equality and justice. Let our redeemer’s birth give us the courage and strength to work for the liberation and empowerment of the oppressed and the downtrodden. Let the words of Isaiah the Prophet, become a reality in the lives of the oppressed, marginalized, deprived and excluded through our proactive ministry. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Is 9 :2-3,6)
Wish you all a meaningful Christmas!
+ Most Rev Dr A Neethinathan
Bishop of Chingleput