Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Two thousand years ago, Christ was born in a stable among the animals. There was no room for him in the inn! Today Christ is born in our hearts, our lives and in our beloved land. Emmanuel, God is with us!
We greet you in the name of him who loves us infinitely more than we could ever imagine; the God who became flesh and dwells among us. It is this God we celebrate in our unique Vincentian way and made evident in our Nine Morning festivities among others.
This Christmas we are challenged again to find Christ in the midst of growing our young democracy. The December 2015 elections are over. A new Cabinet has been sworn-in and the governance of our country has been entrusted to both those who commanded the majority of votes and those who would form the opposition.
The presumption of ‘free and fair’ Elections has been challenged. It is important that due process takes its course. Our democracy makes provision for this. This is not the first time the results at the polls are contested in our beloved homeland.
But “what must we do” is a rhetorical question that was asked by those who approached John the Baptist for baptism (Lk 3:10-14). This primary Advent figure, the precursor of Jesus had the task of preparing the way of the Lord (cf. Isa 40:3-5). And he did so without compromise. What must we do to prepare for Jesus’s coming in St. Vincent and the Grenadines today?
Each year as Christmas approaches, the obvious and worrying signs of the primacy of money, the commercialization of the season, the obsession with possessions and possessing seem to take precedence over the true meaning of Christmas. Even more striking is the visible presence of the poor and impoverished in the city.
God is love, he who lives in God lives in love. Are we prepared to will the good of the other? The one who wears or is of a different color from me? The one who is of a different religious or political persuasion from me? Love is the only thing that will not hurt my neighbor (Rom 13:10). We’re one Vincentian people under God! Let us prepare for his coming with concrete acts of love and kindness to each other.
Christmas is a timely reminder that God so willed human good and human flourishing that he ‘gave away’ his only Son so that we may know, without a doubt, that God’s everlasting love anticipates us every day. The Son rises before the sun.
“What must we do” as genuine inquiry into right living is also answered for us by the prophet Micah of 8th century Israel who prophesied the coming of the Messiah (5:2). What the Lord requires of his people is ‘to act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (6:8; NIV). If indeed we allow our faith to inform our living, then Vincentians cannot overlook the imperatives of justice, mercy and humility in governance, civil proceedings and moral living. Israel’s prophets constantly called God’s people back to the basics of covenant relationship with the Lord (Love of God and love of neighbour – Deut 6:4 and Lev 19:18).
What must we do? Our recent elections reminded us that all politicians make promises. We must hold all public figures to the highest standards of integrity and nation building.
The Christmas narrative reflects that there is really only one answer, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God whose coming we celebrate at this time. He assumed our humanity so that human beings could achieve God’s aspirations for us.
Through the gift of his self-giving love, and sacrificial death, he revealed the immense love of the Father for all mankind. The question of ‘What must we do’, therefore, finds its appropriate response in Jesus Christ, the God-Man. He is the answer for the world and for Vincentian society today. We therefore offer Jesus Christ again, the one Lord and Saviour of the world, to all persons.
We wish you SHALOM — a peace that only comes when righteousness and justice walk hand in hand, together in the land.
Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Monsignor Michael Stewart (President)
Major Pierre Antoine (Vice President)
Rev’d Adolf Davis
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday