Mangalore, December 19, 2018: “While our hearts go in search of love, our minds seeks the truth. Human beings are never satisfied with finite love; they go in search of perfect love. Where is the end for this search? Similarly, the mind always goes in search of the Infinite Truth. The constant search of the heart and mind of a seeker is encountered with the perfect Love and Truth revealed by God in the person of Jesus Christ in the mystery of Incarnation. This is the essence of Christmas.”
Thus spoke Most Rev. Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha, Bishop of Mangalore Diocese while delivering his maiden Christmas message today before a gathering comprising media and invitees at Bishop’s House, Kodialbail. Annual Christmas message is a long standing tradition of the church and is delivered by the Bishop a few days before the festival.
The Bishop Dr Peter Paul Saldanha had succeeded Dr. Aloysius Paul D’souza following his retirement. He was anointed as the new head of Mangalore Diocese on September 15th and this is his first Christmas message after becoming Bishop.
Dr Saldanha’s first act after becoming the Bishop was to moot the concept of ‘Banduthva’ to promote interreligious ‘brotherhood’ for bringing about harmony and peace in society. In his Christmas message too he touched upon the subject and elaborated on it.
A Christmas cake was symbolically cut to highlight the occasion. Fr. Victor George Dsouza, Chancellor, Fr. Victor Vijay Lobo, P.R.O., Marcel Monteiro, P.R.O., Melwyn Noronha, Secretary, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Fr Richard D’Souza, Director CCC, Elias Fernandes, media adviser were present on the occasion.
FULL TEXT OF HIS MESSAGE:
“Christmas is the celebration of the birth of God among us. Every December we specially think of this great event, and we ask: Why did God become man? Every human being, created by God, is Seeker of God. It is a continuous search. Who can satisfy the human longing, human being a questioner, he poses a number of questions especially about God. Even an Atheist who denies the existence of God, searches the infinite God more than a theist.
While our hearts go in search of love, our minds seeks the truth. Human beings are never satisfied with finite love; they go in search of perfect love. Where is the end for this search? Similarly, the mind always goes in search of the Infinite Truth.
The constant search of the heart and mind of a seeker is encountered with the perfect Love and Truth revealed by God in the person of Jesus Christ in the mystery of Incarnation. This is the essence of Christmas.
Human being’s ascending movement towards God, God’s descending movement towards human beings have become concrete in the person of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe as true God and true man. Thus every man and woman in some way shares in the nature of Jesus. St Paul in his letter to Philippines in the Bible said,” though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, he emptied himself taking the form of a salve being born in human likeness” ( Phil 2:6-7).
The reason why God has become human is to divinize him/her. He became human and lived with us; He is Emmanuel that means “God is with us”. This is a privilege given by God to every believer.
But Humans, being prey to human instincts wandered far away from God, seeking temporary satisfaction and peace and lost in the illusion of peace. God became human in the person of Jesus Christ who was conceived in the womb of Mother Mary with the power of the Holy Spirit. He was born on a manger at Bethlehem to bring back the fallen human being. The birth of Jesus brought joy to the world. The shepherds got the message of the birth of Jesus first, and the angels sang the chorus, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors” ( Lk 2:14). When we live in favor with God we experience the true peace; living and sharing the same peace with fellow beings propagates brotherhood. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mathew 5:9)
Humanity goes beyond the religious boundaries. Christians believe that God is the beginning and end (alpha and omega), we find our existence in God, and we unite with Him through our brethren. When all human beings live as brothers and sisters in service, respect and honor, they experience true peace and this is the experience of Bandutva/ brotherhood.
The whole creation rejoiced at the birth of Jesus. The creation has discovered the climax of its longing in Jesus. Human beings, due to their selfishness, destroy the creation. Let Jesus who came to save the world from its sins and who reigns on the earth be born in our hearts and minds.
Earth is our common home. It is our responsibility to take care of our common home, said Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudatosi’. Let us protect our mother earth and become the messengers of environmental protection.
Jesus who was born on a manger in utter poverty, offers himself as the greatest gift to humanity in this Christmas. When we adore Jesus in joy and happiness let us also become a gift to others. As we celebrate Christmas, let us and accept all human beings as brothers and sisters. This is the essence of our human existence, this is the real Bandutva.”