The WhatsApp message which I read on the morning of December 25th was impulsive to eclipse the Christmas joy. It was about the demise of Sapna. In any case, more than grief, it created a shock and a dignified feeling about Sapna. There could be conflicting opinions about this. But her faith saved her child and her life too. Sapna was diagnosed with malignancy while carrying her eighth child. In spite of the fact that her specialists had encouraged to begin the treatment promptly, considering the life of her child within her, being a nurse of the AIIMS hospital and knowing fully well that this could impair her life, she didn’t concede. “Only I can give birth to this child, anyone can raise her up”. Her brave decision was truly of martyrdom. After giving birth to the child, she started with her treatment. But it was too late as what the doctors had told her before. The birthday of Jesus became the birthday of Sapna in heaven. (Vividly remembering her when she came to us for supplication while carrying her eighth child, in the Santhidhara Provincial House of the Holy Family Congregation).

In the Christmas Message, while referring to the growing tensions between Israel and Palestine, Pope Francis said “the winds of war are waving across the world. Be it war or strife or refugee problem, the victims are mainly children. We should see the fragile face of the newborn Jesus, who was not given a space in the inn to be born, in these children.

Man turns out to be more ‘Man’ when he is more with others. Man is a being of relations. He can’t be found outside relations. All of his attributes are pertaining to relations. Dad, mom, son, daughter, husband, wife, and friend –all terms relating to him speak about some connection. The fact is he is close to ‘humanness’ when he is away from his self. He turns into a genuine human when he is with and for his brethren. (Cfr. Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity P.234). Jesus was a person absolutely for others. Thus, he became the true man. This was attested by Pilate “Behold, the man” (Jn 19:5).

What the world has to offer when we are on the threshold of 2018? Has education and the social advancement it conveys, been fruitful in getting changed over to human goodness? Is the monetary development getting transformed into the progress of our hearts to wipe away the tears from the eyes of others? Does ‘my association with God’ as asserted in the spiritual circles is getting changed into a growth towards my brother?

Beginning with the stories of war and exiles and that of the conflicts at home, all demonstrate that the human development doesn’t turn into the light to leave the obscurity of selfishness. The fall of the supposed beacons in the spiritual realm and the news of the stinking odour coming out of certain whitened tombs, creating a feeling of aversion and contempt among the faithful are indicators of something. Those who could not standalone were depending or leaning on people, ideas or organizations for a good time. Who will give a response to the insecurity created when they realize that the individuals upon whom they had relied were in more peril than they themselves?

Even after 2017 years, if the message of Christ is not able to convert the Christians in certain areas, it is high time to check whether the spiritual centres are proclaiming the words of Jesus itself. If His words are true to ‘pierce the soul and spirit’ (Heb 4:12), ‘a hammer that breaks rocks into pieces’ (Jer23:29), and ‘sharper than any two edged sword’ (Heb 4:12), then why am I not transformed? It could be in light of the fact that I rely upon the shelter and security which the word of God offers or like Mary, choose the good part to defend my life and reject the warnings given by Jesus in Mat 25. Shouldn’t be the retreat altars which give much significance to the words of God pertaining to ‘God’s love’ and ‘inner healing’ be given equal importance to the words speaking about love for the neighbour, truth and justice?

Everyone in the kingdom were shocked to hear that news! Their king has a severe heart ailment. All the people crowded before the palace to find out about the king. The Prime Minister shouted from the roof top. “There is only a way to save our king. Heart transplantation. But who will donate’’? They all answered together “I will give, I will give my heart”. The minister got perplexed because the king was in need of only one heart. Finally, he found a way out. Holding a red hankie, he said “I will drop this hankie. To whose head it falls should give the heart to the king”. With this, he dropped the hankie. As it came down wangling in the air, people ran here and there. Finally, the red hankie fell on the ground without falling on any head…

Let us not only respect with words, but with our hearts too. Let us transform ourselves into sheltering inns. Let us break the walls of the inn to enlarge its size. Let the number of people not finding a space in the inn reduce. Let there be more to give their body to be cut and their blood to be spilled. So let there be a new hope for 2018…

Happy New year