Recently the above cartoon appeared in the paper (Daily Telegraph, Monday, December 7, 2020). As you can see the Holy Family – Joseph, Mary and Jesus – are in the room and the Wise Men, following the star, have come from another country to visit the Christ child bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Quite cleverly, Warren Brown, the cartoonist, has captured some of the current reality that we have lived with this year and that we will continue to live with into the new year – QR codes, the Wise Men using their mobiles to book in, the bottle of sanitiser, and the sign in sheet – and the caption that tells us what we already know, that it is a very different Christmas this year.
Since last Christmas after having been ravaged by fire and drought, the rains came but so, too, did COVID19 and our world changed, and we are still in the grip of this pandemic. We have had to close down, isolate, sanitise, mask, be trackable and traceable, restrict our travel or not travel at all. Going to different countries, like the Wise Men did, has been virtually impossible. We have all learnt how to zoom, meet up on teams, and stream. The list of what we have had to do just to stay in touch and feel connected goes on and on.
But the cartoon also acknowledges what Christmas is truly all about. Christmas is about the birth of child. Christmas is about God giving us the gift of his only Son. Christmas is about that Son being born into our world and living among us. Christmas is about recognizing the need for us to have God as part of our lives, just like the Wise Men did, and just like many billions of people have done since the birth of Christ. In short, without Christ, Christmas is nothing and nothing, not even a pandemic, will stop us from celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas, the birth of Christ, reminds us that there are many gifts for us to appreciate and cherish – gifts like hope, love, care and support. Earlier this year, I expressed to our staff that I am always in awe of the sense of hope and the love, care and support that I see being provided again and again, to all those in our parish and to those in the wider community. As the year draws to a close, I would like to deeply thank all our staff and parishioners for everything you have done and continue to do during these difficult times. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve you and I thank God for each and every one of you.
On behalf of Fr Peter, Prodencio, and myself, I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas and I pray that the coming year is one full of God’s blessings for each of you. Please know that you are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.