Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As we draw near to Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born in a time of political uncertainty, in a land occupied by a foreign power. A political act, a census, dictated that every man and his family register in their native town. Mary and Joseph thus found themselves far from home and loved ones, on the road, about to bring a child into the world without adequate shelter, money or support. They then became refugees when the king’s jealousy and rage endangered their child’s life. This same human drama is being played out on stages all over the world today. We entered into 2013 moved by the crisis in Syria, a human tragedy on a scale never before seen by humankind, with two million people displaced and rendered refugees. Newfoundlanders found themselves moved to respond. We ended the year with the worst natural disaster in history, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which rendered hundreds of thousands homeless. Once again, Newfoundlanders found it in their hearts to respond.
As refugees, Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have welcomed the aid provided by Newfoundlanders. Knowing what it is to be poor and vulnerable to the ravages of nature, we have consistently opened our hearts, hands and pocketbooks to help people in need. The generosity of Newfoundlanders in time of tremendous and immediate need has moved me greatly. I have been just as moved by the generosity of people who, day in and day out, take time to volunteer, donate to local charities, or bring food to people who are grieving or in need.
It is no coincidence that our God chose to take on human form in and through a poor refugee family. Our God does nothing by accident. God became human in these circumstances to call us to identify with, and give ourselves for, the poor. We cannot be satisfied with “poverty reduction” strategies; we must strive, as Pope Francis urges us, to see the world and people through God’s eyes. He calls us to envision and work for a future of hope and reconciliation, equality and justice. And how will we know that this Kingdom of God is being made real in our midst? The hungry will be fed, the naked will be clothed, the lame will walk, the blind will see, the imprisoned will be freed, and the poor will have Good News proclaimed to them.
In order to bring about this new world, it is important to do what Jesus would do. It is even more important to make Christ present in our world. We Christians do not just slavishly imitate our Master. We have been given His very heart, intelligence, skill and imagination. We must get out there, make a difference wherever we find ourselves, be creative, use our God-given talents and finely-developed skills to make the lives of our brothers and sisters better and our world a more just, more loving, more peaceful place.
I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas! May you experience all the blessings of God. Together, let us give thanks for the blessings of this past year, and look forward in hope.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
MOST REVEREND MARTIN W. CURRIE
Archbishop of St. John’s