Dec 30, 2016

Christmas Message

I just made a quick translation of my homily from Japanese to English of the midnight Mass on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord at Niigata Cathedral, 24 December, 2016.

On the night when Jesus was born, according to the Gospel of Luke, the Angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds living in the field keeping watch over their flock. The Angel declared to shepherds that "I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you." Then the Angel continued; "you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger"

Prophet Isaiah also declared in a similar way telling us that "for a child is born to us, a son is given us" and that is "abundant joy and great rejoicing" for people.

Gospel of Luke and Prophet Isaiah both spoke about great joy given to us and that joy is symbolized by a new born baby. That great joy is, according to Isaiah, joy of finding light in darkness. Therefore Isaiah wrote that "upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone." And a new born baby is symbol of that light and joy.

Celebration of the birth of our Lord is also the celebration of new life given to us which brings us joy and hope. We celebrate because God was incarnated in the same life as ours as human to show us that the human life has divine dignity. Moreover, through the mystery of incarnation, Jesus lived the life of serving and saving others which makes us to ponder deeply about the meaning of life given to us by God as gift. So today we celebrate and at the same time think about meaning of human life.

Gospel of Luke told us that Angel of the Lord after appearing to shepherds proclaimed that "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

This proclamation of Angel teaches us how we should live the God given life.  We should imitate on earth the perfectness of God in heaven and try to live lives according to will of God. St. Paul in today's second reading saying by the same token that the grace of God is "training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age."

Then proclamation of Angel told us that living life according to will of God means living in Peace.

Again and again in the Church we have been saying that Peace of God is not only absence of war or conflict but much more than that. Peace of God means that the order of God is realized. When the original order in which God has created this world is re-established, then real Peace will be established.

Therefore through celebrating birth of Jesus we also contemplate the meaning of our life and also contemplate the possibilities to establish real Peace in this world which would be re-establishment of the order of God. 

Pope Francis In "Laudato Si" points out that "the harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. (66)"

When we look back the year 2016, we should realize that we have been disrupting the harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation by our actions. And we have been creating completely different type of order based upon our arrogance and lack of humility. The order against will of God has brought destruction of Peace and threat to the human life, rejection of helping others, indifferent attitude to cry for help which tempt us to exclude vulnerable people.

Without any efforts, we would be able to find a lot of examples of incidents of rejection, exclusion and indifference in today's world. Throughout the year 2016, so many such incidents happened all over the world.

Peace in Syria.  Holy Father has been making fervent appeal for peace in Syria to political leaders all over the world. He also has been appealing to all of us to help refugees number of times. On April 16, he even brought 3 Syrian refugee families from Greece to Rome to show us what we should be doing.

Despite Holy Father's repeated appeal for peace and action to help vulnerable, what is the reality? Political leaders talk about cease fire and peace, negotiation made and agreement has been reached number of times. But in meantime, suffering of people continues. Especially children are suffering the most. Hospitals are bombed and so many lives of innocent people are still in danger.

Japan is not an exception. What happened in Sagamihara in July made us to think about meaning of human life. 19 handicapped people were killed and 26 injured in a social welfare facility for mentally handicapped in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture. The crime was committed by a lone young man who used to work in the same facility. He justified his action saying that what he did was for the good of people as handicapped people had no value to live. Supporting handicapped people are waste of money, according to his claim. What surprised me is that, particularly in the Internet world, there are quite a number of people who showed sympathy to this claim. What are we talking about? Who gave us authority to make judgment over value of human life? We do not have such authority. Life belong to God. 

God gave us this precious life. Life is the precious gift for all of us. Then what would be the God's design for human life? How does God want us to live?  We have to take time to ponder on the meaning of life so that we might be able to "reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.

In the world where we live today is filled by so much of malicious intentions and indifference attitude which do not pay due respect to human life.

Dec 26, 2016

I wish you a blessed Christmas.

My dear friends,

I wish you all Merry Christmas and blessing for the coming year, 2017.

Bishop Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Bishop of Niigata, Japan