Fr Alex Busuttil mssp, Christmas 2016
A message of Love and Peace from Peru
Here we are celebrating Christmas and ending another year.  Last night, the 24th December, I celebrated Christmas with about 200 people in one of the settlements up the mountain and again later on for about another 300 people further down.  We started the service with beautiful songs and after the bible readings a group of youths did a short representation of the Christmas story.  Afterwards a short homily followed and then continued with the celebration of the Eucharist.  After blessing the small statues of baby Jesus for the people to take home with them we turned our meeting into a big festive gathering with singing celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  We finished our celebration with the traditional “biscocho” (a sort of sweet bread) and “chocolatada” (hot chocolate) at around 10.00pm.  Two hours later everybody was celebrating the birth of Jesus with fireworks all over the place.  After fireworks, all the families say prayers in front of their cribs and then share a meal.
Christmas is celebration.  The celebration of the God – Love made man.  Love that becomes human to share our joys and pains, and shows us the way to achieve peace of heart and live life to the full.  It is very interesting that we celebrate Christmas before starting a New Year.  It is a time for reflection, thinking on what has been achieved in one’s life so far and where is one heading.  What is beyond doubt is that life goes on and so do our years.  Many people exist while others live, and I think it is very important that we question where we stand.  At Christmas we should not only celebrate the birth of Jesus but also our own.  It gives us the opportunity for a new beginning, to be born again, to have a second chance.  For many years, we may have lived our life carried away by the self-centred values of the world.  A world mastered by materialism, power and greed.  Perhaps it is time to think differently and give God a chance.  Let God be God in our lives.  Let our lives be led by Love wherever we are, in whatever we say and in whatever we do.  This is what it means to let God be God in our lives.
Many people say that they consider themselves righteous because they live their own life and never hurt anyone.  The issue here is not if we hurt anyone, but how interested we are in reaching out to others and doing good.  It is not about not doing the bad thing… it is about doing the good thing.  This is the way to build God’s kingdom on Earth.  This is the way to build the kingdom of Love and peace … and that is exactly the message of Christmas.
Unfortunately, the material world has taken over the way we celebrate Christmas.  While there are, people spending huge amounts of money in shopping centres there are others who are feeling it really bad.  Hunger, poverty, war, slavery, discrimination, political hate, terrorism, extremism, injustice, etc. are still very present in the world we live.  It is such a contrast and a contradiction to spend so much, to celebrate a child being born in extreme poverty and who defended the poor all the way until his death and resurrection.
Looking ahead towards the New Year 2017, there are many challenges ahead especially in front of the mighty power of materialism.  How is the world going to face the new reality of the new leaderships and visions following Brexit, elections in the States, the coming elections in France and Germany, the Russian and Chinese ambitions, the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, the middle East, conflicts in many parts of Africa, the emerging dictators, migration, etc. And the new dehumanizing ideologies undermining family values.  And the frenetic search for new ways of living human sexuality and relationships, etc.
All the above shows the need for a new world vision.  A vision without prejudice and moved by Christ, who is Love itself made human, and his message of peace and good will.  Love that is made present in the world today, thanks to you and me when we look towards our neighbours through the eyes of love.  Together we can build peace on Earth.  Let us do it.  The challenge is here and starts right now.
May Love and Peace fill your heart and that of all your loved ones. May we together find the wisdom and the strength to act by doing something good for humanity.  Let our legacy in the world be one of Love and Peace.
Christmas blessings and a blessed year 2017
Fr Alex – Arequipa, Peru.
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