2014-12-24 16:19:00

Cardinal Arinze: This Christmas, try and reach out to others

No Funeral Face for Christmas

How should Christians celebrate Christmas? Cardinal Arinze believes that Pope Francis has shown us how, when during the third week of Advent, the Pope said that a Christian should not be seen wearing a long “funeral face.” Christians, according to Pope Francis, should pray for God’s joy which will be seen at least in a sense of peace, if not in a smile.

The Nigerian-born Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments speaking to Vatican Radio’s English Service for Africa, in Rome, adds, “Christians need to celebrate Christmas because Christ is the centre of history and that Christmas is the best preparation for the feast of Easter.”

Reach out to those less fortune than you

“So we need to be joyful, “says Cardinal Arinze. “As Pope Francis has told us, we need to pray for God’s joy. Then we have to thank God each day for the blessings we have been given. I would say that we should also think about how we can go out of our way to help others who are experiencing difficulties. This is solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are sick, who are poor, who are old or who are orphaned or widowed.  This, in my view, is the best way to celebrate Christmas,” Cardinal Arinze added.

If you can, have a special meal with the family

Cardinal Arinze has acknowledged financial difficulties that many families and individuals are going through, today. “If we are able to, yes, it is a good thing that we give gifts to those we love and if we can, it would be good to have a special meal or banquet for our family. All of these things are good but they are not the most important to the celebration of Christmas. What is most important is to realize that God took on our human nature and the Son of God was born in Bethlehem,” the Cardinal emphasized.

Is 25 December really the birthday of Jesus?

Asked what he would say to detractors who dismiss Christmas because there is no record or proof that Christ was actually born on 25 December? Cardinal Arinze was candid, “Are we sure that Christ was born on 25 December? The answer is no! What is important is that the Son of God was born in Bethlehem. About this, there can be no dispute. That is the important fact.” He insisted.

The Cardinal however explained that in the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday or Christian feast. The Catholic Church decided to choose 25 December in an effort to give new meaning to pre-Christian traditions such as the pagan feast that honoured the Sun.

Events of our Salvation are spread throughout the year

Cardinal Arinze added, “We humans would be overwhelmed. We cannot celebrate all the events of our Salvation at once. As humans, we cannot think of Christmas, the suffering of Christ, the resurrection, Pentecost and so on at the same time. It would be too much. So the Church spreads the celebrations of these events of our Salvation throughout the Liturgical year,” Cardinal Arinze explained.

Christ is the Centre of history

“From the fall of Adam, God promised the world a Saviour. It is not just coincidence that we designate all that period before Christ’s birth as BC, meaning before Christ. The period after Christ’s coming we call AD, anno domini.” The term “Anno Domini” is Latin for, “In the year of the Lord.” Cardinal Arinze says that for Christians, the birth of Christ is at the centre of humankind’s history. “It is the most important event that has taken place since God created the human being on Earth. Christ is the desired of nations,” Cardinal Arinze emphasised.

Christ is the Centre of Christmas

“At the centre of Christmas, we have Christ who is the mystery.  Christ is the mystery because the Son of God took on our human nature and was born in Bethlehem. For love of us and our salvation, he came down from heaven. This is the mystery of Christmas and it is the best preparation for the feast of Easter.” Cardinal Arinze said.

(Fr. Paul Samasumo)

e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va

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