Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First and foremost, let me wish you all a Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year, in the Lord. These wishes are routinely repeated every year, and when we hear them from friends, sometimes they become meaningless and don’t express anything special at all. That’s why I say “in the Lord”, because though we can have almost the same external celebrations, God never repeats Himself. Every year He has a special message for every one of us. God is not sleeping; He is alive; He knows what we need this year, which is different from what we needed last year or will need next year. God’s graces and blessings are unique for me, just as they are for every one of you. We are different from each other, and what God wants for us is appropriate to our personal situation in which we live every year.
This year we live in an atmosphere of fear. The killings in France, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Central Africa and in other countries of the world make us fearful and anxious about the future. This year, especially, we need courage, faith and trust in God. He will never abandon us. In this year of Mercy, God wants us to experience His mercy, love and compassion. If God is with us, nobody can defeat us.
But, God is with us if we are in communion with each other. Hatred, divisions, jealousy, envy and many other sins prevent God from coming to us. God is merciful with us if we are merciful with others. Those who cause divisions in the Church cannot be loved by God, who wants us to remain united, as Jesus is one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit: “May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you" (Jn 17:21). During this Year of Mercy, let us reflect on our lives by asking: Am I fostering unity, love, and mercy? Am I imparting forgiveness?
This is my sincere wish for you this Christmas and New Year: Reconcile with all and the Lord will find a place in your heart, shepherding you towards the joy and peace that only He can give!
With my Apostolic Blessing,
Your Bishop, Camillo Ballin, mccj
Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia