Christmas is a feast of friendship and fellowship. The Christmas season lends itself to joy, cheer, generosity and sharing. There is something in that simple, heartwarming scene of a little Child lying in the poverty and misery of the cowshed that touches a chord of humanity, tenderness and compassion in our hearts. We celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts to commemorate and celebrate the greatest gift that God has given us by being born as a human on earth. Because of this great event nothing truly human is alien to the divine. That is why we rejoice. That is what we celebrate.
Our joy is doubled when it is shared. We want to share our Christmas joy with you, our friends, our benefactors, our collaborators, our well-wishers. You are our valued partners in Mission. Your good will and generosity, your understanding and empathy, your timely assistance and wise counsel have been of invaluable help to us in our service of the people of all castes, creeds and classes and in running our institutions. Therefore, this is an opportunity for us to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to each one of you for your good will, your encouragement and your support in all our endeavours and initiatives in the service of the young in our institutions. Therefore I once again thank you for journeying with us in realizing, at least to some extent, the dream of Jesus born in Bethlehem.
There is a charming little story of a spiritual guru who once asked his disciples about how they could tell that the night is over and the day has dawned. Several of them gave several different answers. One said that when one sees a banana tree and recognizes it as a banana tree and not a ghost, then he knows that it is day. Another said that when he sees a horse and recognizes it as a horse and not a donkey he knows that it is day. A third said that when he sees a man and recognizes him as man and not a woman he certainly knows that it is day. Then the Guru answered: “All of you are wrong. It is when we see a stranger and recognize him as our brother it is then indeed that we know that the night is at last gone and the day has finally dawned”
Friends, with the birth of Christ a new day has dawned and the cosmos is suffused with the divine light. Christmas is the day of light. It is really Deepavali. It reminds us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us. The Child lying in the cowshed is the light of the world dispelling the darkness of poverty, ignorance, unbelief, hatred, vengeance and violence. The light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The light of Christ shines on all those who seek him with a sincere heart, to the earth's lowly and afflicted, to the victims of violence, and to all who yearn for peace. Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, environmental crisis and the scourge of terrorism, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars. Christmas invites us to show solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance, violence, terrorism or environmental degradation, the Christmas is calling us to an attitude of acceptance and welcome.
Therefore on behalf of the Child of Bethlehem, born in the shelter of a poor cave, and on behalf of many children, like him, born homeless and in refugee camps, I wish to greet you with the very words the angels spoke to the shepherds: "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And this is the token for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2: 10 to 12). We hope for this to happen again during this Christmas season in our hearts, in our homes, in our country and in the whole wide world, our common home.
And in that moment lies our true happiness: A happiness of sincerely serving others; A happiness of rejoicing with them in shared effort and joy;
A happiness of knowing and offering forgiveness; A happiness of lasting love which is not afraid of self-sacrifice. This is the happiness open for us on the darkest of nights. Let us rejoice in this gift, accepting it afresh with gratitude and so wish each other a very happy Christmas indeed. Let me conclude by wishing each of you a very happy Christmas and a New Year full of promise and fulfillment. God bless you.