1 January 2015
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
During the Christmas season, the Church celebrates the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ with great joy, praise and thanksgiving to God. In his infinite mercy towards mankind, the Lord came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed). God was born unto the world as a man, similar to us in our humanity yet always maintaining his divinity. Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father and eternal Word of God, became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (CCC 457).
It is therefore with deep gratitude and humble acceptance of God’s love which has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, that we begin the New Year with renewed hope. At this time we invoke the Lord’s blessings upon the Church in the region of the Arabian Peninsula which has become our temporary home, on our journey towards God’s Kingdom.
God reaches out to us not by proclaiming commandments or imposing prohibitions, but rather with his blessings. The Lord’s blessing is his divine energy, force and fruitfulness of life that comes down upon us, encircles us, penetrates our hearts and minds, strengthens and nourishes us. God asks us to bless each other. To bless our days and our lives and those of others. God invites us to bless and not to condemn nor curse life or one another. How true it is that unless we have a sense of gratitude in our hearts and learn to bless life and one another, we shall never be truly happy.
Some may ask how are we to bless each other? The Lord himself gives us a formula: May the Lord let his face shine upon you! This is truly a wonderful blessing, for as believers we are always seeking the face of the Lord, to recognize his face in the faces of our brothers and sisters. May we all discover the light of God’s grace within us and that our Lord is light and that in him there is no darkness.
The blessing of the Lord then is not found in health, money, fortune, prestige, power, a long life, but very simply in his light. Light can be many things and we can only understand it and recognize it when we encounter someone who is truly enlightened by faith, who shines out with goodness, generosity, simplicity, beauty and peace. The Lord blesses us by bringing enlightened people into our lives and hopefully we can catch that same light like a contagion and spread it to others.
The blessing continues with May the Lord be gracious to you. At the beginning of a new calendar year we might be thinking to ourselves what is in store for us in the upcoming year? The answer can never be certain, for we cannot predict the future easily, but one thing is certain and that is, that the Lord will be gracious to us by not forgetting us, by accompanying us, by helping us up on our feet again each and every time we fall.
The beginning of a New Year is a moment when many people decide to make some personal resolutions aimed at improving themselves and the quality of their lives. Some therefore decide to seriously go on a diet and lose weight, others may want to exercise more, still others may resolve to give up a bad habit such as smoking or swearing. The pessimists will always say that resolutions are meant to be broken and therefore nothing will come out of them.
As believers in God though, we wish to remain eternal optimists and never lose hope for a better future. Therefore during the course of the New Year, may we make a new resolution of faith to never turn away from the Lord by sinning, nor from one another, especially not from our brothers and sisters who are suffering any form of enslavement or the effects of evil and sin. May our resolution be to pray more, to give of ourselves more, to sacrifice ourselves more for the good of others around us, to make use of the time and talents God has given us in order to work on exercising our souls by keeping them always in God’s grace through devotion and charitable deeds.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary’s example of humble and trusting faith be an inspiration for us, so that we may become instruments of the Lord’s care towards one other, especially those suffering and in need. Then we too will be able to count ourselves amongst God’s chosen ones, blessed for having believed and for seeking to fulfill his will in our lives.