Christmas 2020: Dear Brothers, colleagues in mission, and friends: With unbounded gratitude for your continued support, co-operation and encouragement over what has been an unforeseeable year, I wish each of you a blessed, happy Christmas and every good in 2021. I hope and pray that all is well with you and that you are keeping safe, healthy and happy in these challenging times. Let us keep each other and all of humanity constantly before our all loving, caring Creator and all will be well.
2020 has been an extraordinary year in the life of Planet Earth! The impact of the coronavirus on our health, travel, business, social, political, spiritual lives and freedoms could not have been envisioned a year ago. Yet here we are at the end of the year, resilient and hope filled for what in the past was taken for granted. How we miss the simple joys of Christmas, such as meeting in our parents’ homes, sharing the Christmas Eve dinner, swapping gifts, opening our Santa Claus presents, having a few drinks, taking a walk around sacred, reverenced pathways, participating in uplifting Christmas liturgies, and reminiscing on event of the year ending!
Without question, Covid-19 highlights the dualism of our lifestyles. When crunch comes to shove, it is the deeper values of family, friendships, relationships, freedom, and respect for God’s creation that become important, while money, power, ego, and old perceptions of success become less important. This reminds us of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a per-son took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches. — Matthew 13:31–32
In his commentary on this parable Richard Rohr explains:
“The Reign of God is Jesus’ message, but he never describes it literally. He walks around it and keeps giving different images of the Real. For example, the mustard seed is very small and insignificant, and the kingdom is “like” that.
The two images on which Jesus is building in this parable of the mustard seed are a therapeutic image of life and healing, and a fast-growing weed. What a strange thing for Jesus to say: “I’m planting a weed in the world!” Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence and simplicity are planted and they’re going to flourish, even wildly so. The old world is over.
The virtue for living in the in-between times Jesus calls “faith.” He is talking about the grace and the freedom to live God’s dream for the world now—while not rejecting the world as it is. That’s a mighty tension that is not easily re-solved.
There are always two worlds. The world as it is usually operates on power, ego, and success. The world as it could be, operates out of love. One is founded on dominative power, and the other is a continual call to right relationship and reciprocal power. The secret of this Kingdom life is discovering how we can live in both worlds simultaneously.” (Richard Rohr – 2020)
This Christmas is also going to be different! Whoever or wherever you are, my prayer is that you will find that world that operates out of love. This is the world where the teachings of Jesus on nonviolence and simplicity flourish like the mustard seed. This is the world where the simple joys of family get togethers, sharing food, drinks, conversations, participating in Christmas liturgies, playing together, recognizing and enjoying the beauty of all creation, extending a helping hand to a person less well-off will fill our Christmas with love, peace and joy.
Thanking you and wishing you all that is good for Christmas and 2021.
Br. Tony Dolan Minister General