On 6 January in the community of the Generalate and Procura General, according to a long and beautiful tradition we celebrated Koleda – a time of common prayer, blessing of the house and blessing of the community. The house is the place, where we are at home. During one of the catechesis (11.10.2017) Pope Francis said: "Jesus is as a house, and we are inside, and from the windows of this house we look at the world. For this reason we do not close in on ourselves, we do not long with melancholy for a supposedly golden past, but we look ever forward, to a future that is not only our handiwork, but that above all is a constant concern of the providence of God".
Two days before Christmas, among the cards on my desk, I chanced upon a fragment of poetry from Alda Merini:
“… And how to get to know your face,
I will explain it to you:
it is enough to see something
that bears your imprint.
And we are full of your imprints,
as if you had passed through every home
leaving invisible signs”.
I would like to share this short text with you because it presents us again, in a nutshell, the entire message of Christmas, including what it affirms regarding human beings and what it requires of them.
And also, it I think that it speaks in a clear way about our life and what is at the centre of our heart.
During the preparation of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the prince peace, the community of Nishkalanka Seva Home (Senior Citizens Home) Mumbai, practiced the concept of Humanity is the best religion by organizing a live crib reenactment on the village streets of Mohapada town, Mumbai.
The New Year (1st January) has been a great blessing to Queen of Peace Province in Tanzania, as Sr. Johnerica Sirilo pronounced her Final Profession and the four second year Novices: Sr. Emanuela Peter Sulle, Sr. Gema Fransis Tarimo, Sr. Pudensiana Melanio Augustino and Sr. Martha Benjamin Felix pronounced their first vows.
▪ Our Sisters participated in the solemn Celebrations of the Nativity of the Lord, being reassured of God’s infinite love which we are called to share with each other. Pope Francis in his Message at the Urbi et Orbi urged all around the world to look for Jesus in the faces of little children suffering in war-torn and conflict-riven regions from the Middle East to Africa to the Korean Peninsula. He said that "the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline."
There are clearly two parts in today’s gospel narrative that present Jesus first as giver and then as receiver leading again to his giving.
Faced with human need, Jesus’ heart is moved to do what he can to alleviate their suffering. He frees those who are possessed by demons and heals those who are sick, including Peter’s mother-in-law (I facetiously find here the root of Peter’s denials: he never forgave Jesus for curing his mother-in-law). As Paul will much later tell his friends in Ephesus using an otherwise uncorroborated saying of Jesus, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” [Acts 20:35]. At least at the level of ministry, my own experience resonates with that quote. Yet in the course of years of ministry I have learned that I cannot keep on giving without at some point receiving. In my early years I found myself at times “drained”, empty, victim of one-sided spiritual activism.
Faith is a force of consolation in suffering
Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love... Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. How many men and women of faith have found mediators of light in those who suffer! So it was with Saint Francis of Assisi and the leper, or with Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil. Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.
1 Samuel 1:9-20; Mark 1:21-28
Jesus speaks here at the beginning of His career with striking authority, not through a repetition, a simple commentary, or a refinement of the text but as a prophet, one speaking directly the words of God Himself. He knows the text that He is opening for His community perfectly well, since He is permeated with the words of the Old Testament and filled with the Holy Spirit, just like His mother: it will become apparent later in His life that He is not only a special vessel of God's word, He is God's Word. At this early point, though, His mastery of the written word and the oral delivery of it sets Him up for a special role in salvation history.