Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, I am very happy to greet you all, people of God in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique as I celebrate with you my first Christmas as Bishop of St. George’s-in-Grenada.
I would like to thank all those who have made me feel so very welcome in Grenada, especially during my parish visits for Confirmation and the unforgettable moments in Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The Advent/Christmas season invites all of us to think more seriously about the meaning of Christmas and to allow that reflection to take us to prayer. Long before we were drawn to crèches and babes in mangers, the message was summed up in John’s declaration: THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND LIVED AMONG US AND WE SAW HIS GLORY, THAT OF THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH (John 1:14).
These powerful words remind us that Christmas in its fullness is about God and us. The Son of God, the self-expression of the Father in love, comes among us as one of us. The true and living God is to be found as one of us, the most vulnerable of us, an infant in a manger, among animals and straw.
God is not satisfied with giving us life, the world in which we live, the love of family and friends. God gives us God’s very self in appearing as one of us. The Giver is the Gift. We Christians proclaim that, in Jesus Christ, God has given Godself to us.
The gift is not only sent by God. The gift is God. God put God’s whole self into the gift which He gave us. So much of our prayer is about asking God for things or changed circumstances. In so doing, we are missing the main point of Christmas and of our Christian faith.
The only truly human gift is the gift you make of yourself. Take time this Christmas to be present to at least one person. When you give a gift, add a personal touch to it.
Last year someone wrote a personal message on the inside of the gift paper. The recipient at first tore the paper; but then had great fun gently removing the wrapping to discover a personal note that was more treasured than what was wrapped up.
Christmas is a time when many ought to be able to say, “I was hungry and you did not send me to a restaurant. You gave me food. You shared a meal with me.” It is in such sharing that the word “gift” is made flesh. A parent knows it when a child presents a Christmas card that has been self-made, not one bought off a store shelf. Friends know it when the gift is of one’s own making. Take time this Christmas to make at least some of your gifts truly gifts of yourself, from yourself.
As we enter into 2018, may we continue to be gift to one another. I have been very proud of the response of Grenadians to the tragic experience of our brothers and sisters in Dominica and Barbuda. That compassion has roots in our own experience with Janet and Ivan.
Let us prepare ourselves for whatever comes in 2018. Let us be particularly careful about the words we use in 2018. If our words are to take flesh, will we be proud of the flesh they become? If we had to eat our own words, would we be happy with the meal? Whether it is personal relationships, employment or political office, those who deceive to attain the prize will find themselves continuing to deceive to retain it.
Let us strive to put aside the mauvais langue, true or lie, which leads to character assassination and enduring bitterness. Such animosity can destroy the common life which our people have been proud and happy to share.
Let not the struggles of early 2018 lead to such bitterness that we will not be able to stand together if adversity confronts us later in the year.
May God bless all of you, especially the children, the aged, the vulnerable. May God richly bless all those who give themselves in selfless service to the Church and the nation. May God guide us to be truly GIFT to those whom we love and care for.
God bless Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.