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Let there be Peace, Love and Joy

Let there be Peace, Love and Joy

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Fri Dec 21, 2012

BY DR THE HON. RALPH E. GONSALVES
PRIME MINISTER OF ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

As Christians, we celebrate and commemorate, around the world, the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on December 25th every year. Invariably, too, most non-Christians join us in the commemoration of our Christ whose teachings of the universal values of peace, love, good neighbourliness, faith, hope, and redemption, touch the lives of everyone.{{more}}

Last year I had the honour, privilege and blessing to celebrate Christmas at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born over 2,000 years ago. Sitting next to Eloise and me in the church was my host, a Muslim, the President of Palestine, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas. The chief celebrant of the church service was the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a holy city shared by Jews and Arabs, mainly Palestinians. The Church of the Nativity is superintended by Christians of three, sometimes bickering, religious denominations: Roman Catholic, American, and Greek Orthodox. In the church were Christians of all nationalities; there were also non-Christians, mainly Palestinians who are largely Muslims and Jews who belong overwhelmingly to Judaism. Of course, there were Palestinians and Jews who are Christians.

As I sat listening to the church service conducted mainly in English and Latin, I reflected on the path-breaking life and work of Jesus; his prophetic antecedents going all the way back to Abraham who is the fountain-head of what we know as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; his teachings of uplifting universal values; the roles of the individual, family, and community; the condition of the world and St Vincent and the Grenadines; and my own quest for personal salvation. These thoughts are still with me as I strive to be closer to Jesus, and as I struggle, in communion with my fellow human beings, for a better world for all, including my beloved people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Jesus Christ came to bring the Good News of Salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike. He called sinners to repentance and eternal life. The High Priests of the Jews, the Roman colonisers, and large numbers of his own people to whom He had come to grant the saving grace, conspired against Him and crucified Him. He forgave them and welcomed those who repented into Paradise. His resurrection, which was foretold in prophecy, is the promise of salvation and life everlasting. We must, however, believe in Him, act on that belief and we will not perish, but instead enjoy everlasting life.

The journey along life’s way to redemption is both easy and difficult. Easy, because the Christian teachings provide a road map without which one would walk in pointless, self-defeating circles. But difficult, too, because adversaries to the Truth, the Life and the Way put road blocks and dead-end diversions in our path. Each of us has to defeat these adversaries, resolve the challenges, and escape the pit-falls. It begins with each of us, but it does not end with each of us. We can triumph in communion with each other, under the suzerainty of Jesus Christ.

There is a grave danger in the commercialisation and trivialisation of Christmas. Increased trade and commerce are to be encouraged, but excesses in personal consumption are to be avoided. “Nine Mornings”, “Lighting Up” and “Christmas Carolling” lift our people’s spirit, promote family life and camaraderie, and enhance our civilisation’s traditions and nobility, but without a focus on the significance of Christ’s life and work it can all degenerate into bacchanalia. We must avoid the carnivalisation of Christmas.

At Christmas 2012 let us be giving and good neighbourly; let us be loving and peaceful; let us enjoy ourselves without indulging in excesses; let us lift the solidarity in our families, communities, and nation in unity; let us look out especially for the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged among us; let us allow the spirit of our Lord to dwell in us; and let us pray for a better world.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has its challenges and problems. But we are blessed with so many gifts for which we must be truly thankful. To be sure there are limitations and weaknesses, but we possess immense strengths and possibilities. The global economic crisis, international conflicts, and natural disasters still impact adversely upon us, but opportunities abound for the improvement of conditions of life globally, regionally, nationally, and locally. We must get the small things right, even while we commendably do the big things.

At Christmas 2012, let us renew ourselves in faith, love, and hope. Let us put aside our petty bickering and divisiveness. Reject all things negative and think positively. Let us resolve to stop the lies, defamation, debilitating propaganda, and the debasement of our politics and life. Let us not think only about the capitalist market or the State. There is a society which we must strive to make whole. Above all, there is our God!

I wish everyone a Christmas of peace, love and joy and a prosperous and uplifting 2013.

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