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The Christmas that has yet to come

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work".

Christmas is about birth, new beginnings, new life and it is a time to think about the dignity and value of our own life and others. It’s a special time to honor and help needy children. The best Christmas story is like that of the Holy Family seeking shelter from the cruel weather and the closed doors of the inn keepers. It’s the rescue of yet another abused child.

At the Preda Children’s Home, a refuge always open for abused girls, the latest arrival is a small 12 year-old child named Maria. She was traumatized, nervous and silent when she was brought in, still in shock. Now a week later she is smiling and happy to be safe and protected having escaped from her cruel sex abuser, who, tragically, is her own biological father.

Maria found the courage after a year of abuse to finally overcome fear of the threats and finally told her mother who believed her and reported it to the authorities. The father was immediately arrested, charged and jailed. For her and 53 other children, it will be a very happy Christmas at the home and for those recovered and returned safely to their homes. In the surrounding villages, we give Christmas parties and gifts and games for over 300 children.

Our thanks to all those who have donated to help us save and support these children, those rescued from brothels and pimps during the past year. You are making the world a happier place.

The birth of Jesus Christ and his message of hope is the good news that the greatest happiness is to take a stand for others in dire need and fight for the poor and those whose rights are violated. That’s a mission to protect and enhance life, to belong to a loving supportive family and community and contribute to building a way of life, based on equality, justice and dignity for all especially for the abused, oppressed and outcast.

This is why Jesus was born, lived and died. He came to rid the world of sin, not individual sin only but social sin, and to change the corrupt systems that enslave people in poverty and hardship. We are called to imitate and carry on his work.

His mission was for his time and for all time. It could have dramatically changed the world by upsetting the balance of power and ascendancy, it could have overturned the status quo and would have empowered communities to prevent the rise of tyrants and dictators or non-violently and peacefully remove them from power with prayer and fasting.

By blessing the poor, the outcasts, the landless and uplifting and declaring them rightful members of the Kingdom and by supporting those that hungered for food, justice, truth and equality, He was revolutionary. He was the messiah. When he was a baby, Herod saw him as a danger to his throne and massacred all the one year-old children just to kill him. Was not his mission to begin a spiritual and moral revolution? Perhaps it had political ramifications in the minds the authorities of the time and that’s why they killed him. His message lives on; the values he brought are universal and inspire people of all cultures, religions and nationalities.

Do we not see these very values today in the hearts and minds of those people on the steps of St. Paul’s in London, those occupying a park near Wall Street, others camping out in cities around the world? Those marching and chanting in mass protests in the Middle East and enduring torture and death do so for the same values, for freedom and justice, we are all brothers and sisters members of God’s one family.

Christianity did transform the world dramatically for a while, but it fell away for a historical period, had it continued pure and untainted there would be less greed, injustice, oppression, and fewer money moguls dominating our lives.

But change is happening these days as hundreds of thousands work for human rights and justice and sacrifice themselves in building a more peaceful and honest way of life. Witness the three brave women winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. They live with greater simplicity and happiness and are creating a more peaceful, just and happier world. The challenge for all of us is to believe that it is possible and to help make it happen. A blessed Christmas and New Year to all!

By Fr. Shay Cullen




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