Lucknow Bishop’s Message for Christmas 2018 Birth of the Prince of Peace
Christmas is celebrated all over the world with great joy and warmth on 25th December to commemorate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born c.2020 years ago in Bethlehem in Palestine. Long before His birth Prophet Isaiah had foretold the coming of the Messiah in the following words: “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and His name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is.9:6)
Indeed when Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a Virgin named Mary, the shepherds were out in the field g keeping watch over their flocks by night and an Angel appeared to them and announced: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”. And suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased “ (cf. Luke: 2:8 -14).
Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God. St. John in the Prologue to his Gospel writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. (John 1:1-2 & 14)
This same Jesus, Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace went about doing good to people, healing people of all types of infirmities, giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons and raising the dead! He forgave sinners and brought comfort and consolation to the outcasts and downtrodden, bringing the love and compassion of His Heavenly Father to the suffering humanity. Finally through his death and Resurrection he saved sinful humanity from eternal punishment. Through his salvific death on the Cross he redeemed the world and made peace between God and humans.
Peace and reconciliation is the need of the hour. The world stands in need of peace more than ever before. We are living in a world torn apart by armed conflicts, wars, terrorism, religious persecution, oppression of the poor, discrimination against women and girl children, rapes, lynching and murders. Corruption and injustice are rampant. There is general moral degradation with widespread sexual promiscuity and a growing culture of violence.
But the peace that Christ gives is experienced only by people of good will with whom God is pleased. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)
Peace, reconciliation, religious harmony, tolerance, respect for the dignity of each and every human person are so essential to create a new society. All of us must work for peace and harmony. Love, compassion, forgiveness, justice, truth, purity, service, self-sacrifice etc are the essence of Christ’s teaching. Our country needs them badly too.
Christmas brings the message of love, life, hope and peace. May these most needed gifts from God be poured down abundantly from heaven during this joyous season and all through 2019. I wish the readers a Grace-filled Christmas and Peaceful New Year.
†Most Rev. Dr. Gerald John Mathias
Bishop of Lucknow