God loves.” Luke 2:14
Dear fellow Ghanaians, and all men and women of good will resident in our country Ghana, as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christmas and the gift of the New Year, I would like to bring you all season’s greetings on behalf of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and to share some reflections with you on the significance of Christmas.
Christmas and the Incarnation
For us Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Christ’s birth at Christmas marks the beginning of the process of restoration of the broken relationship between God and humanity. With the birth of Christ, God came to be with us not just in spirit but in the flesh. For this reason, Christ is said to be Emmanuel, “God with us” (Isa. 7:14). Christmas is about the incarnation, God taking on human flesh and becoming a human being, as St. John testifies to in his Gospel, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn.
Because Christmas is about the incarnation, the coming together of the divine and the human, we have an obligation to strive always after the divine and not limit ourselves to the merely human or earthly. This is what St. Paul urges us to do in Colossians 3:1-2, when he says, “… seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Christmas becomes meaningful only to the extent that human beings, born in the image and likeness of God, strive each day to live godly lives.
Christmas and Peace
Christmas is also about peace since Christmas celebrates the feast of Christ, the Prince of Peace. For us Christians, Christ is the Prince of Peace spoken of by the prophet Isaiah: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us … and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
In his Gospel, St. Luke says that at Christ’s birth, angels of God sang of peace: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk. 2:14). Christ is the Prince of Peace who gives his peace to this world, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). The celebration of Christmas therefore is a reminder of the peace that the Son of God has brought to us as well as an invitation to us not only to pray for peace, but more importantly, to desire and actively work for peace in our homes, families, schools, communities, towns and cities, and in our country and the world at large.
Christmas and Migration
The celebration of Christmas also brings our attention to the phenomenon of global migration. After Jesus was born, his family was forced to flee Palestine to stay in Egypt due to the threats of King Herod (Matt. 2:1-11). Thus, Jesus and his family became migrants in Africa for a while.
For many years now, Africans migrating to mostly Europe and America, have had to endure all kinds of discrimination and exploitation and often times, death. In more recent times also, some migrants within some African countries have had to endure similar predicament at the hands of their fellow Africans. We consider it unchristian and unacceptable any acts of discrimination, stereotyping and physical attacks on Africans and other people in any part of the world, but particularly in Africa, the continent where the Saviour found refuge, and urge the leaders of the continent to work together to find appropriate and acceptable ways of resolving such occurrences.
As Ghanaians, and Africans for that matter, we should rejoice in the fact that our continent was the place where Jesus, the Saviour of the world and Prince of Peace found sanctuary from the murderous threats of King Herod. We need to acknowledge the part we played in God’s salvation plan by offering refuge to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Inspired by this fact, we must work hard to eliminate the myriad of problems we face as a continent. We can tackle our numerous challenges by taking refuge in Jesus Christ our Saviour and by working hard in all our endeavours.
Christmas, New Year and Peaceful Elections in Ghana
The year 2020 is another election year in Ghana, and eligible Ghanaians will go to the polls at the end of the year to elect a President and Members of Parliament to run the affairs of the nation for the next four years. In the lead up to the elections, we wish to appeal to all political parties and their candidates, their leaders and supporters, to think Ghana first and conduct their campaigns in a manner that is devoid of insults, provocation, mudslinging, name calling and acts of violence. We strongly encourage an issue-based campaign that puts the peace and development of Ghana first. While we remain optimistic that our Electoral Commission will organize a free, fair and transparent elections, we also urge all Ghanaians to cooperate with the Commission to deliver on its mandate. We remain confident in our security agencies to deal with all potential troubles should they happen to ensure that peace prevails before, during and after the elections.
On behalf of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I take this opportunity to wish all Ghanaians a very blessed Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. It is my prayer and that of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference that the coming year will be one filled with God’s protection, peace, joy, and love. May God bless us all as we work together to build a peaceful and prosperous nation.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019