A light that overcomes the darkness
A Christmas message from the Bishop of Gibraltar Carmel Zammit.
Reflecting about the celebration of Christmas this year, in the circumstances we are living, reminded me of the famous verses, which open ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens. They express what we are experiencing in the last few years, the tension between the good and the suffering in life. They hint at the tensions that life presents.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us”.
During the celebration of Mass at Christmas we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah ring out: “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone… For a child is born to us”. We also join in proclaiming together: Today is born our Saviour, Christ the Lord. And in the Gospel which describes the appearance of the angel to the shepherds we read: The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a Saviour has been born for you who is Christ and Lord”.
In these few passages we find the kernel of what Christmas is about, it is about the light that Jesus brings that overcomes the darkness in our lives, it is about the joyful news that the birth of the Saviour brings to all who accept him. It is about overcoming fear and continuing to hope. Christmas is about hope, about joy and about peace.
The experiences that we have been living in the last three years have thrown a dark shadow over our lives and the lives of all human beings. Many here and across the globe have lost their lives to Covid-19 with their families left to mourn their passing, many have survived the virus with lasting effects, and others have risked their lives to provide medical care. It has left many marked by profound sadness, isolation, and fear.
As if the pandemic did not present enough trial and suffering, once it seemed to subside, we are faced with the invasion in Ukraine which is inflicting so much suffering on everybody. The thousands of deaths, the thousands of refugees, and the millions suffering hunger and facing economic poverty are all reasons that may lead us to lose hope. The uncertainty of the outcome of the talks taking place due to Brexit is also another reason for worry. Yet in all this uncertainty and suffering, we must not lose hope.
Each year, we faithfully celebrate at Christmas the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christmas comes every year, even during moments of great difficulty. Let us remember and pray for those who celebrate Christmas with a loved one at war, those who are seriously ill, the unemployed, and those grieving the loss of a loved one. We also think of those who celebrate Christmas without a home or country, those who are alone, those who are victims of natural disasters, and those on the margins of society.
Just as Christmas may occur during times of distress, so too does it offer us each year a message of joy, healing, and hope. This hope is rooted not in the human events of the day, but in the eternal message of salvation. God’s love will never turn away from us. He loves us so much that He sent his Son who took on flesh and was prepared to sacrifice his life for our salvation.
To be joyful even in the midst of so many troubling events does not diminish our solidarity with those who suffer, but rather speaks to the bright Christmas promise of the Angels, “Do not be afraid… for a Saviour has been born for us who is Christ and Lord.”
It is into this world, here and now, that God’s love is being revealed. It is a light that comes to us in darkness.
And so, I invite you to joy and hope this Christmas Season, not because we have no difficulties to face in the days ahead, but because God has come down to Earth to encounter each one of us and to embrace us as His beloved children.
I wish you all a blessed and Happy Christmas.