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Let the Light of Hope, the Light of Peace shine on our beloved people and nation

Despite all challenges, let us say, merry Christmas because evil has an expiry date and the people who walk in darkness will rise again and see the light

Warm wishes and prayers for a Christmas of hope, peace, and reconciliation.

May the great gift of Jesus, start a pilgrimage of hope and healing, and reconciliation in this nation. As we gather to celebrate the message of the incarnation of God’s love in the form of the Baby Jesus, we pray for everyone away from home, that justice may flow like a river and wash away your tears and return home. Let the message of the first Christmas, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to all men and women” be sung again in our hearts and this nation.

Preaching the message of peace becomes a great challenge in a world wounded by war, and the displacement of millions. Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine and our own country has consistently prayed for the dawn of peace. Despite his own personal challenges, the pope undertakes an arduous pilgrimage of peace, trying to bring harmony among nations.  

Countries without comprehensive peace are an offense to the message of Christmas. Yet giving up hope is not an option, since the pivotal message of Christmas and the Bible is peace and reconciliation, the light shines in the darkness. A dream that challenges nightmarish darkness.  God wants peace in Myanmar and the world.

In the Old Testament, God articulated his plans through prophets. We read the Prophet Isaiah all through advent. Prophet Isaiah is a great prophet. dreamer of hope and reconciliation. He has three great dreams for a troubled world, a world that has known only tears and brokenness of hatred. 

Man is the greatest enemy of God’s plan, starting from Cain in the Garden of Eden. God’s effort at the restoration of his reign is often expressed as dreams through the prophets.  Reconciliation and restoration of relationships  is the message of the prophets.

Isaiah’s first dream is of hope of light amidst darkness. His voice sounds as a healing balm to us in Myanmar, in Ukraine.

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The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,

Upon them, a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Yes, this is an iconic pivotal verse from the Bible. God is the light of peace.

Look at countries in conflict like Ukraine and other places: the darkness of the arrogance of evil, the suffocating darkness of despair. Not one day, or two days, for decades. Like the Exodus of the Old Testament, human suffering is for decades.  

Pope prays for peace. Evil in the hearts of insecure men and women is a darkness that destroys them and others. The evil darkness of despair that seeks the destruction of one another, the evil of seeking an eye for an eye, that makes the whole world blind.   History is full of men of evil who inflicted tears and sorrow on themselves and others.

What is the way out? 

That is Isaiah’s second prophecy and dream.  

God will send his son, born in poverty, to shame the vulgar rich, emptying himself powerless to shame men drunk with power, preaching peace in a world of conflict.  The prophet’s message of Christmas is soothing our troubled souls Let us listen to his second dream:  

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son

and will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

For to us, a child is born,  to us, a son is given, and the government 

will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called. Wonderful Counselor, 

Mighty. God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ((9:6)

Yes. A child is born for us. From a virgin. Emmanuel, God in us.

What the world considers as powerless is the choice of God: Child. The prophet says the government is on the shoulders of that child, shocking and shaming those who seek power by any means. God’s choice is powerless. That child will seek no weapons, but peace and be called Prince of Peace. When God rules there will be only one rule: the rule of the meek and the humble, the rule of peace. When Isaiah told of the coming Prince of Peace, he spoke of light dispelling darkness. The metaphor of light is central to our celebration of Christmas.  Let there be light in our hearts. Let us dispel the darkness of hatred.

Christmas is the celebration of that child, the child that holds his form of government on its shoulders, not to dominate but to serve with peace and justice. This is the God’s Kingdom.  That is God’s dream, that is the dream born in the manger of Bethlehem. Temporary setbacks shall not deter a Christian from seeking peace with justice.

From these flows the third dream of Isaiah the core message of Christmas.

And He shall judge between the nations, and arbitrate for many peoples. And they will beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning knives.

Nation shall not take up the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  (2:1-5)

Yes. That is the dream of Christmas of 2022. War and conflict are obscene. The cost of every fighter plane that bombs Ukraine has robbed the education of millions of students and cost thousands of schools. When nations learn war no more, then everyone can live in peace and prosperity.         

Pope message affirmed this message recently. He shed copious tears, at the plight of conflict in Ukraine and he said:

Peace is not achieved with weapons, because they don’t defeat hatred and the thirst for domination, which will re-emerge, perhaps in other ways. Everyone must commit themselves to demilitarize their hearts, starting from their own, and then to defuse and disarm violence.

Yes. That is the prayer for Myanmar. For too long our people have walked the Way of the Cross. Church accompanies them in their sorrow. During this Christmas season, it does not preach vengeance, but reaches out through reconciliation, trying to affirm the humanity of all. That is the message of incarnation. Only a wounded person can forgive.  

Peace based on genuine justice is possible. Peace is the only way. Yes, Political and economic oppression need to come to an end, as well as hateful and divisive ideologies. This nation, Russia, Ukraine will learn peace and will practice it

We have come today with that hope. That is the hope of Christmas. Christmas is about repairing and restoring relationships. If God could reconcile with erratic humanity, sacrificing his only son, we shall too, work towards establishing a just relationship. The repairing of the relationships, The restoration comes through God’s move towards humanity, through Christ, and humanity’s move towards God in response. Humanity is the family of God.

In the second reading, in his letter to Titus, St Paul reminds us of that task: The biblical Shalom is not the absence of conflict. It is the recovery of wholeness, completeness, balance, healing, well-being, tranquility, prosperity, security, and justice. We wait for the blessed hope

The Gospel today is a poignant narrative reflection of the condition of millions in an unjust world as graphically depicted by media. The empire arrogated to itself who lives where, forcing a poor carpenter family to be relocated, be displaced, be persecuted, to flee amidst engulfing blaze of anxiety. For taxation, the poor family of  Joseph and Mary were driven to Bethlehem. Harassing the poor and the vulnerable is a trade mark game. A child was born in the most horrible conditions to Mary. The child  Jesus had just a place in the manger and was ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes”. Thousands of children are born in the camps today.

Yet, it is amidst this darkened milieu, there was a star on the horizon, and the angels sang.  It is a song of “Peace”. The empire that persecuted that poor couple is consigned to the garbage of history. Jesus’ Kingdom of love, peace, and justice rule the hearts of billions for the last two millennium. Evil has an expiry date, good will reassert. That hope is Christmas.

So, despite all challenges, let us say, merry Christmas since evil has an expiry date and the people who walk in darkness will rise again and see the light. Let Jesus be born in our hearts and houses, heralding the end of all darkness of hatred and conflict, demilitarizing the minds of all who weaponize hatred.

Let the streets of Myanmar once again echo the great melody of the first Christmas: Glory to God in the highest: Peace to all people of  Good Will on earth.

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