A contemporary story straight out of the Scriptures
Father Alexis Ouedraogo is not just any priest. He lives in the diocese of Kaya, in Burkina Faso, and is responsible for a Catholic media and social communications apostolate. He also serves as director of the diocesan radio station, “Notre Dame Radio.” Father Alexis, with his smile and desire never to give up in the face of difficulty, told Aleteia how he and his people are experiencing the approach of Christmas, and he recounted a curious event that occured last year on Christmas Day.
Father, what do you look forward to as Christmas approaches?
Our country, Burkina Faso, which means “the land of upright men”, has gone through an important socio-political period. I am referring especially to the popular uprising that toppled the regime of President Blaise Compaore, freeing the population from terror, fear, and corruption, and from the silent dictatorship of a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Peace was seriously threatened during this revolution. Consequently, the gift that I look forward to at Christmas is peace, reconciliation, trust between families on the one hand, and on the other, between the citizens and the new leaders of the transitional government. I desire the peace contained in the words of the song of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”
Christmas is the mystery of God becoming one of us. What helps you to remember the meaning of this feast?
Christmas is the feast of the birth of a Child as a bridge between heaven and earth, as a bond between God and man, as a concrete sign of solidarity of God who hastens to rescue man. In short, it is the feast of God who comes to man to share most intimately in his condition and brings him his love. And so he invites us to do the same for one other. This sharing is what we try to live out in our own way, and according to our own circumstances on Christmas Day: food is prepared and shared between families, neighbors, friends and especially with the poor, the sick, the elderly, etc. It’s nice to see the dishes run between the houses, carried by the children. I think this gesture gives us the best glimpse into the meaning of Christmas, as a feast of sharing and solidarity without limits and without borders. It enables us to see the presence of God who, without looking at the misery of Man, visits him in his insecurity and uncertainty.
What do you ask for in prayer?
First of all, I pray for peace in our country and in the world, because we are not an isolated island. Being closed only creates stagnant water gone rotten. I pray for the improvement of the living situation of thousands and thousands of children who leave school, their families, their parents and who daily risk their lives in the mines. Many of the children die there, in the workplace. Jesus was born at Christmas to draw us out of every form of poverty. It is not acceptable that the future of thousands upon thousands of children vanish in thin air because of poverty. But we can still do much to prevent this from happening. Therefore, I pray that the coming of the Child Jesus will give birth to a feeling of solidarity with these children in the hearts of all, because the Incarnation is a form of God’s solidarity with a humanity, wounded by the poverty of sin.
Isn’t there a story, an interesting event in your village linked to Christmas?
It’s the story of little Adama Christmas, a Muslim child whose birth on Christmas Day last year allowed his village to encounter the Gospel. His father, who is a Muslim, is the village chief and is respected by all. He took a fourth wife about ten years ago, but they were unable to have children. A Christian woman, a friend of his wife, invited her to join her at the midnight Christmas vigil in the neighboring village. Secretly, the young Muslim woman decided to participate and asked Mary, the Mother of God, for the grace to have a child. And the following Christmas she gave birth to the little Adama Christmas! It should be highlighted that the village in which they live has a Muslim majority and, until last year, there was no possibility for Christians to buy land to build a church. They were forced to pray in secret.
Curiously or miraculously, her husband, when he became aware of what had happened, told everyone the story. But more importantly, he donated a piece of land in his village to the Christians. Soon afterward he met the bishop and told him that he was willing to allow the Gospel to enter their village for those who wanted to receive and live it. And so this year, for the first time in the history of the village, Christmas will be celebrated in a church. Jesus is the bridge between God and man. So, too, little Adama Christmas was a bridge between Muslims and Christians in his village.