The message to give our brothers and sisters this Christmas: "You have a friend you can count on."
Beloved Filipino cardinal, Luis Antonio Tagle, formerly the archbishop of Manila and now an official in the Vatican, thinks the pandemic actually might help us focus this Christmas. He told Vatican News:
I think the problems and the sufferings of this year will even help us focus on the message of hope and Christmas. What is it? It is God who comes to us. We will never be alone. Emmanuel: God with us. And other things that are with us will disappear: the investments, the achievements, the gifts, our money … will all disappear. All these things that we have associated with Christmas may disappear. But Jesus who comes as one of us, God with us, will remain with us forever. So that is our hope.
“I think we should also remember that probably the original Christmas, when Christ was born — the situation was not ideal,” he reflected. “Israel was under some very difficult conditions of life, and in that midst, the Son of God was born.”
The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples as well as president of the Church’s charity arm, Caritas Internationalis, himself contracted Covid in November.
He tested positive for it as he arrived in his home county of the Philippines, meaning that he had to quarantine and was unable to visit his family during his time there.
The cardinal’s message for those who have been infected is that he relates to them as a brother. “Someone who knows specially the internal turmoil, the anguish, the fear.”
And he suggested that just as a Covid infection catches us by surprise, “so as the Gospel says: you do not know when it is coming, when the Lord will come, so be prepared.”
So I hope we, all of us, could live every moment, every day of our lives, at peace with God, at peace with our neighbors. Let us not postpone the good things that we could do now, little acts: a simple act of kindness, a little act of justice, a simple phone call, a smile, a remembrance because you might not have another chance to do it.
Specifically, Cardinal Tagle suggested using Christmas as an impetus for charity.
I always remember how creative Christians of different places and of different generations are in celebrating Christmas. You go from country to country and you see the creativity of Christians. This year, Christmas 2020 in the pandemic is calling for solidarity. I hope we will be creative, that we will be able to find ways, specially in reminding our brothers and sisters that they have a friend that they can count on. Maybe, instead of saving money for myself, why don’t I save money for my neighbour who has none? Instead of having a feast for myself and my family alone, why can I not order food also for someone? There are many, many ways, so that people will know “I have a brother, I have a sister, I have a friend.”