Christmas And The Year Of Mercy
LAST Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, at an elaborate ceremony in the Vatican City, flagged off the Year of Mercy; an 18-month period of grace that would close on November 20, 2016.
The Year of Mercy, also known as the Jubilee of Mercy, is a period when the Church entrusts the life of all mankind into the warm embrace of Christ, urging him to intercede for us before the Father, pleading for His mercy upon us. Similarly, today (December 13) at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, the Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, will be declaring the Year open with a Mass that would attract a large turnout of priests and faithful. Afterwards, over a period of 18 months, millions of pilgrims across the world would be expected to pass the Holy Door of Mercy and gain special indulgencies for their sins. Specifically, the Church, through the Jubilee of Mercy, is calling on all of God’s children to draw nearer to God who is always ready to forgive all our sins and give us a new start in life. For Catholics, they are expected to be more regular at confessions and also participate more fully in charitable works and in turn extend love to others.
For us as a country, we need the mercy of God, even as we battle with immense economic quagmire. We are presently in this hard time because of the negative actions we took in the past. Our representatives (politicians) who are the managers of our collective wealth have obviously not done so well in the past, hence we are at very low ebb in our nationhood. Thus, in this period of love characterized by the coming of God’s child into the world to spread peace, and through next year, God is opening wide his hands of mercy towards us and urging us to come to him and be healed.
Talking about Christmas, so many churches would play host to carols. Many parents would take their children to see Santa Claus and visit places of entertainment. There is something ever fresh and inviting about the prevailing weather that is gleeful only at this period of the year. No wonder then that Christmas is simply the most electrifying period of the year. Be you Christian, Muslim or atheist, you cannot but acknowledge the beauty of this unique season when we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Despite the lull in the economy, many of us would still celebrate the Yuletide in one form or the other. Where are the places you can go to? You may visit prisons and hospitals. While you are healthy, with abundance to eat, there are many who are caged by circumstances beyond their control. They can neither move freely nor eat what they wish. This is a time to share with them. You may decide to clothe someone this Christmas or help pay someone’s hospital bill. Look around you, there are widows and orphans crying daily to the heavens for divine intervention. Remember this: you can only find real joy and fulfillment this Yuletide when you make Christ the focal point. How do we do this? By reaching out to as many people as you can, especially the poor and the needy. Be the divine vessel through which God would put a smile on the faces of some widows and orphans this beautiful season of joy.
Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.