Pastoral message from Father Robert Arida
“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Saint Paul’s words of support and encouragement to the Church in Corinth can be a great benefit to us as we prepare to enter the feast of Christ’s nativity. Indeed, we are to be watchful as we stand firm in our faith since what we are about to celebrate ultimately calls us to accept and nurture a creative tension generated by the Son of God entering the world as a human being. We are to be watchful and firm in our faith for the birth of Christ and all that is related to the Lord’s saving work is, on the one hand, perceived as an intrusion seeking to disturb the comfortable and smug bourgeois Christianity of our culture. On the other hand, it is often claimed as a political or ideological tool to promote the agendas that divide and alienate one human being from another for the sake of worldly power and notoriety. Celebrating the Lord’s nativity requires courage and strength to stand apart from and to correct all that opposes or distorts the proclamation and manifestation of God’s kingdom in our midst.
The Christmas event summons all of humanity to draw near in repentance to the living God who chose us “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Ephesians 1:4) The birth of Christ is a cosmic event and therefore has no boundaries but draws every one and every thing into the kingdom of new and eternal life. For God “has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will… which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph. 1:9-10)
Proclaiming and celebrating the “presence” and “coming” of God’s universal kingdom is the foundation of the Church’s work in and for the life of the world. For those who await the celebration of Christ’s nativity there can be no other agenda for the Church. Even the worthy causes that fall under the rubric of social justice cannot and must not veil or replace the Savior’s call to repentance, conversion and transfiguration.
All that we do personally and corporately as the Church must be done in love so as to ceaselessly grow in communion with God and our neighbor. Within this interpersonal dynamic of love there is no room for the moral and political currents of our culture to alter or reshape the Gospel of forgiveness, hope and new life. Nor can we allow these currents to identify who we are. For when we succumb to these currents we develop a myopic view of reality and gradually assume a false identity destined only for death.
We belong to the incarnate Christ in whom we are identified as sons and daughters of the Father. In Christ we are given the Spirit who seeks to direct the work of the Church towards putting down all the walls of division which set one human being against another.
The birth of our Savior brings the light of wisdom into all the world. Our celebration of the Feast affirms that our minds and hearts are open to receiving this uncreated divine light, which manifests the beauty and joy of God’s new and everlasting kingdom.
With love in Christ,