BISHOP’S MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY

By | Bishop Carmel, Christmas

Bishop Zammit sends greetings to everyone this Christmas

 

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:11)  

This is the news of great joy that we, as Christians, are called to share with all of humanity.  This is what Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ, our Saviour and Lord.   We are celebrating the Incarnation of God as a reality and not as a mythological story.

We have spent the last two months witnessing the attractions that commercial venues present to us to entice us to shop and prepare for all that is culturally and socially expected of us during this period. For some time, many would have been buying food and drinks, together with all other sorts of Christmas attractions and presents.

All this is commendable, since there is always in this preoccupation to prepare for Christmas that element of good will towards others. This, thank God, has remained as the main feeling during this period even for those who are not Christians, or who do not practice their Christian religion. There are those who have taken Christ out of Christmas, but there is no taking away from us that Christmas is about loving, wishing well to each other and advocating peace. Even in our secularist society, which unfortunately have lost the sense of God and of the sacred, such sentiments are still felt during this period.

The key words that are often repeated at Christmas time are love and peace.

The ultimate truth that we celebrate at Christmas is summarized in one of the most often quoted verses from St John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).

God’s love for us, with all our deficiencies and failures, remains the central message, as we reflect on the events around the birth of Jesus.

For those who celebrate the birth of Christ as the coming of the Saviour, and embrace the Gospel, this annual observance provides the opportunity to be grounded once again at the very core of our being, to understand that the purpose of all humanity is to live in the knowledge of the love of God and thus to live peaceably with all men and women.

It is important that we remember those who are suffering during this Christmas, and try to show our solidarity with them. The love that God has shown us by becoming one of us should be shared amongst us.

The Angels sang, when they appeared to the shepherds, peace on earth on those of good will. If we want peace to reign in the world, that peace has to start existing within us. Unless we feel at peace, we cannot make peace a possible reality around us. Places of conflict are all around us. Achieving world peace seems to be a far-fetched dream, but however impossible it may seem we need to pray and hope that the peace that Christ came to bring on earth may one day be achieved.

To live the love and peace that Christmas announces, here in Gibraltar, we have to learn to concretely show respect towards each other in the way we talk about each other and what we write on the social media, which may be detrimental to the wellbeing of others. When there is disagreement, it is time that we show respect in the way we argue what we believe in. Hiding behind the social media to vent hatred and insults against others is certainly not the best way to behave in a civilized society.

Let us enjoy ourselves this Christmas, let us strengthen the ties that bind families together, but let us also find some time to reflect on our lives and see whether there are areas where we need to revise and change our behaviour so that the love and peace which Christmas is meant to bring with it is realized in the way we live.

I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Bishop’s Latest Pastoral Letter

By | Bishop Carmel, News

Every Bishop presents a Pastoral Letter from time to time. This is his way of keeping close to his people, exercising his ministry as the chief Teacher and Shepherd of his flock.

Usually, a Pastoral Letter is issued for special occasions or for the major liturgical seasons, to help the faithful prepare and make of that time, a grace-filled opportunity with the Lord. Lent and Advent are two traditional times of the Church’s year when the Bishop tries to help set the scene in preparation for the two greatest moments of our history: the Birth of our Saviour; and His Passion, Death and Resurrection in Holy Week. These are also “Penitential” seasons, when the faithful are invited to make space and time for the Lord, through sacrifice and prayer.

The last Pastoral Letter was issued for Sunday 18th February, the First Sunday of Lent, to be read in all churches and chapels in Gibraltar where a Sunday Mass was being celebrated.

Although Lent has already passed and we now find ourselves rejoicing in Eastertide, the Bishop’s message can still help us spiritually. It encourages us not to forget what the Lord did for us at His Passion on Good Friday, as something we honour almost each Friday of the year. You can read his message here