Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, fellow Ugandans, countrymen and women, all people of God, I joyfully greet you with the peace and grace of Christmas.
Truly soon after the birth of the Savior, the heavens opened down to earth with the melodious song: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk. 2:14).
How blessed are we to be so favored to the point of becoming children of God, a dignity that God has not even granted the angels: “…for to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? (Heb 1:5).
- Christmas: A Celebration of Our Faith
All along in our Catechism and faith instructions, we know and profess that God became man (Jn. 1:14) to embrace all that is human except sin (Heb. 4:15) and to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12).
All the four weeks of Advent have been preparing us to this event, giving us therefore, a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence.
The approach of this solemnity helps us on the one hand to reflect on the drama of history in which people, injured by sin, are perennially in search of happiness and of a fulfilling sense of life and death. On the other hand, it urges us to meditate on the merciful kindness of God who came to man to communicate to him directly the Truth that saves, and to enable him to partake in His friendship and His life.
It is for this reason that Pope emeritus Benedict said that: Therefore, let us prepare ourselves for Christmas with humility and simplicity, making ourselves ready to receive as a gift the light, joy and peace that shine from this mystery (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, December 17, 2008).
- Christmas: A Family Celebration
In his Christmas message of the year 2020, the Holy Father Pope Francis went on to stress that the beauty of Christmas shines through in the sharing of small gestures of concrete love. The Word became flesh in order to dialogue with us. God does not desire to carry on a monologue, but a dialogue. For God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dialogue, an eternal and infinite communion of love and life.
The degree of true joy and sharing in our families will tell the quality of our celebration of Christmas. Is this not what we learn from the Holy Family of Nazareth? : “…And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger…" (Lk. 2:16).
Looking at our society and families today, especially in our country Uganda, we cannot close our eyes to the following challenges:
• The effects of Covid 19, and now Ebola outbreak.
• The loss of Family values in Society
• The disappearance of some of our brothers and sisters who are still kept incognito!
• The Increasing poverty caused by the rise of prices for almost all commodities, the world economic recession, corruption and abuse of office
• Atrocities and suffering arising from Land grabbing
• Uncontrolled road accidents that have caused the loss of many lives of the innocent people.
• The rampant domestic violence which is quite in today’s society
It is for these reasons, dear brothers and sisters, that I humbly call upon you to remember that in the cold of the night, the baby Jesus stretches out his tiny arms towards us: calling us to strengthen open dialogue, to yearn more for reconciliation and fraternity, to keep the beauty of our Land (Laudato si), while at the same time the voice of the angels from heaven continue to invite us “…Peace on earth”!
- Christmas a Call to Walk Together
By Divine providence, we celebrate this Christmas, when the Synod on Synodality by Pope Francis is still in progress. Its main theme is walking together in Communion, Participation and Mission. As we celebrate Christmas for this year 2022, I call upon all peace-loving Ugandans, all the leaders in this country, be it Political, Religious, Cultural and Local leaders to work for peace and promote a just Walking-together.
Wherever possible, let us suport all those who provide humanitarian aid to the needy, especially the refugees, children, the sick and the aged.
Let us be be a source of light and support for all those who believe in and strive, to promote dialogue. In celebrating the joy and peace of Christmas, let us remember to comfort the victims of violence against women, which has recently increased in time of the Covid-pandemic. I know that through our pastoral structures, we can ably volunteer to ofer hope to young children and adolescents suffering from bullying and abuse.
While wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, let me conclude with this prayer of Saint Pope John Paul II, which is prayed at Angelus in St. Peter’s square in 2003:
May the Virgin Mary help us to open the doors of our hearts to Christ, Redeemer of man and of history; may she teach us to be humble, because God looks upon the lowly; may she enable us to grow in understanding the value of prayer, of inner silence, of listening to God’s Word; may she spur us to seek God’s will deeply and sincerely, even when this upsets our plans; may she encourage us while we wait for the Lord, sharing our time and energies with those in need.
Mother of God, Virgin of expectation, grant that the God-who-comes will find us ready to receive the abundance of his mercy. May Mary Most Holy, “Woman of the Eucharist” and Virgin of Advent, prepare us all to joyfully welcome Christ’s coming and to celebrate worthily his sacramental presence in the mystery of the Eucharist.
The author is the Archbishop of Kampala