The weary world rejoices – Christmas message

My dear Parishioners,

Each year I like to put a theme to the Christmas season. This year’s theme for us, here at St Stephen Church, Cumballa Hill is, ‘the weary world rejoices.’ It’s been almost two long years that the pandemic has altered much of our lives leaving us rather weary. The recent strain of the Covi-19 virus has left us holding our breath once again with the fear of being chained to the railings. Yet as we approach Christmas Day this year, we sense a joy; Christmas is a time for the weary world to rejoice.

As your parish priest, I want to wish you joy and peace. Peace, as we know, is not the absence of strife or conflict but the ability to endure the storm even in the midst of it; our hearts and minds focused on the Lord. That may sound like wishful thinking but it is the deepest expression of what true faith is all about. These last two years have been a test of endurance for many people. From businesses to relationship, the strain has been quite evident on all walks of life. Yet in all of this we have heard and seen acts of love and kindness and that lifts up our spirits.

As a parish we have done well and I will elaborate on this topic especially on the 26th of December 2021, the day of the feast of our patron. St Stephen. While the Church building has certainly been wearing a new look, it is the spiritual life of the parish that I am most concerned about. I want to encourage you this Christmas not just to come to Christmas mass but to come back each day and every Sunday for mass. For the Church, as for me, the sacrament of reconciliation is paramount in the healing of our relationship with Christ. Denying satan’s wily ways or wishing that satan will not and does not tempt us is like asking the fox to spare the chickens.

The solemnity of the birth of Jesus is God’s gift to us; a gift of a saviour. This tiny babe is born to die for us. This we should not forget as we bend low at the crib on Christmas day. I hope that you do not just admire the nativity scene at the manger but spend time in prayer. The crib is a reminder of God’s love for us in the form of the greatest gift; Jesus who has come to save us.

The mass on Christmas eve will begin at eight pm. You are requested to be in your seat by 7.45 pm latest. We want to discourage movement while the word of God is read, so if you do come late, please wait at the door till the word of God is read and then permit the ushers to direct you to a place. Please note, the directions of the ushers given to you are not suggestions. Given the covid protocols we are unable to accommodate your personal seating preferences and also have to keep in mind government regulations. The mass on Christmas day will be at seven am, eight thirty am and ten am. There is no evening mass even though the next day is a Sunday.

I wish to remind you of the dress code that has been mandated by the Archdiocese of Bombay for all liturgical functions. Needless to say, modesty of dress must be adhered to. The ushers will offer you a shawl if you do not meet basic standards of modesty of dress. We have informed you of the same in the parish notices earlier this month.

You will notice that St Stephens Church is all dressed up for Christmas. There are new decorations in the hall and the Church. We have new nativity scene statues; the door of the Church has been polished and a beautiful Christmas tree stands in the Church with several musical instruments around it thanks to Furtado’s.

My thanks go out to the youth led by Godfrey who have worked hard on the crib and the decorations in the Church. To Pankaj and the ushers for cleaning the Church, to Robert who has been supervising and caring for the building, to Mr Varghese and our office staff, to Anton and Santan, to the choir under the baton of Maria and to all of you who have been making this Christmas special here at St Stephen’s.

Christmas is about family and it makes little sense to come to Church without your family especially if you have the privilege of having one. Make it a point to walk into Church as a family. I want to appeal epically to the youth; hang around with your friends later but come to Church with your family.

Finally, in all your celebrations do think of the poor. My gratitude goes out to all those who contributed to the Christmas hampers, both from our parish and those from other parishes. On special occasions such Christmas, my mother would pack a meal at lunchtime and give it to us to go out on the road and feed the poor. As a young man I always felt a bit awkward to do this but that value has stayed with me. Christmas is not just about our joy but bringing joy to the poor. Seek someone on Christmas day to share a meal and a bit of cheer.

Fr Theo joins me in wishing you all a Happy Christmas and w look forward to seeing you for mass on Christmas Eve.

Spread the love ♥

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