Dear loving Fathers and Brothers in Christ,
This is the season of Christmas; the season of greeting cards, Santa Claus, cakes, the Christmas wreath, stars, decorations, jingle bells, etc. resonate with the observance of Advent and Christmas. The year 2020 left us with a lot of and sorrowful moments, yet we are full of hope in view of what is yet to come. This hope is founded in ’Who’ is to come: ’our Lord Jesus Christ’. We prepare ourselves to receive this Child Jesus in our hearts as Mary and Joseph received, along with the Gloria of angels and shepherds’ witness.
When I try to see the message of La Salette through the lens of Christmas, what strikes me most is the quality of simplicity. From the Biblical perspective, Jesus, born in Bethlehem, radiates the simplicity of God. The star over Bethlehem radiates this simplicity attracting many, beginning with “simple shepherds” to “simple wise men”. It is no longer wealth, power, and beauty that attract, but simplicity does. Simplicity takes precedence over the virtues of the world. Let us move towards the manger and learn this simplicity from Jesus. the scripture records, “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). The message of Christmas is that, in the crib, we see that God, who has come to us and is with us. God is here, whatever we are facing individually or in common. God in Jesus has visited us to share our lives, with all our joys and sorrows.
Are we able to see this simplicity in La Salette? I would say Yes. Mary at La Salette came to visit us as a peasant woman. The Children explains, “she wore the dress of a woman of that region”. It is a form of incarnation, being identified as one among them. Here the messenger embodies the message through her appearance. The children felt so at ease because she was seen as a woman who weeps for her children. The whole nature and content of the message are so simple that it spoke specifically to each receiver. Although she spoke to the children, the blessed mother was speaking to each one of us. Listen carefully: are you not hearing those messages as if they were intended to address you?
Religious life founded in simplicity or evangelical vow of poverty has a meaning and a witnessing message. As religious we are challenged to live our life in simplicity. We need to live our consecration daily with humility and simplicity. The simplicity of life, besides being the measure of our poverty, is also a help to preserve and enhance it. It is ‘the language of example’, the language people today understand and appreciate much better than sweet coated words or bombarding preaching.
I conclude my reflection with the words of Pope Francis addressing the United Nations in 2019:
“These are days in which we raise our eyes to heaven and commend to God those people and situations that are closest to our heart. In this gaze, we acknowledge ourselves to be sons and daughters of one Father, brothers, and sisters. We give thanks for all the goodness present in this world, and for all those who freely give of themselves, those who spend their lives in service to others, those who do not give up but keep trying to build a more humane and just society. We know well that we cannot be saved alone. … May Christmas, in its authentic simplicity, remind us that the most important thing in life is love.” (Pope Francis, December 20, 2019.)
So, what can be the best gift we can offer when child Jesus visits us? yes, it is the gift of simplicity. Let us pray for this virtue. Our God is the God of simplicity, who is with us always. May we welcome him again with hope. Let the star of Jesus annihilate the darkness that prevailed over the world by the Coronavirus. I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Christmas and kindly extend my greetings to your family members and the people you serve.
Fr. Sajive Maliakal MS
where to find us
Curia Provincialis - La Salette Sadhan
P.B. No. 10017
Electronics City P.O.
Bangalore - 560100, INDIA
Tel.: (91) 080-27849281
Fax : (91) 080-27849280