“If Christmas will be good, you will tell from the eve” is a popular Liberian saying meaning the same as that English expression, “coming events cast their shadows”. From all indications, Christmas this year will fall in a harsh economic environment replete with challenges, some of which may adversely impact the ability of many Liberian families to share in the joy of Christmas. Many will go to bed hungry on Christmas day, the signs foretell.
The anticipation of many small savings and loans associations (SuSu) to receive their money from the bank for their respective year-end distribution may be quashed as the local banks have seemingly run out of Liberian dollar banknotes. Further, increasing poverty caused by rising prices of just about everything, corruption, domestic violence, especially rape, are just a few of the many challenges lying ahead.
Despite all these challenges, this newspaper urges Liberians to not lose sight of the message that Christmas brings to mankind. It is a message of hope, the birth of the Messiah who would restore the broken trust between God and man, a message of Peace of Justice and Reconciliation.
Being reconciled, according to Father Leopold Ratnasekera, Assistant Secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka “means that differences are shed, injustices of which people are guilty are mutually rectified, ill-will healed and good-will brought in, mistakes mutually confessed and forgiven, a commitment to higher ideals made and a firm adherence to solidarity declared”.
And so the message of the Holy birth of Christ behooves each of us, especially our leaders, most of who profess the Christian faith, to promote the ideals of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation and practice the virtues of selflessness, honesty and diligence within our respective environments at all times.
If each of us acted in such ways promoting peace, justice, honesty and reconciliation in every facet of our daily lives, there would be no place for corruption, witchcraft, human sacrifice and greed among other vices which have led a few people to amass wealth at the expense of the nation.
Thus, giving meaning to the true intent and spirit of Christmas and the message it brings, calls upon each of us to cultivate proper moral values and stand firm against the moral degradation which appears to be rapidly beclouding this nation. People, particularly public officials tell blatant lies publicly and there is a growing tendency to cherish evil and wrong doing where people lavish praise on officials who steal public funds and flaunt it.
Too many of our public officials nowadays tend to have “cat-licked” faces, a Liberian expression meaning an individual who has no shame, absolutely no remorse of conscience for doing anything wrong. The message of Christmas firmly confers upon us the charge to rebuild the nation’s conscience which has become so badly scarred and deformed by the obnoxious tendency to cherish and praise evil and wrong doing. And this does not augur well for peace and reconciliation and it undermines the true spirit of Christmas.
Christmas is a time to exchange gifts with others as a mark of sharing and caring and honoring friendships. It is also a time to strengthen and renew relationships and build new ones. In the Book of Luke Chapter 2, Verse 14, it says “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.
As we celebrate Christmas let us resolve to set ourselves apart from the pursuit of worldly fame and glory. As followers of Christ, we must remember that the Lord Jesus requires that we set ourselves apart from wicked and sinful people blindly in pursuit of fame, wealth and status. What are most important are the things Christ requires of us. And what does he require of us? He requires us to be able to have a God-fearing heart and to seek the Lord’s will in all things, to love him with our heart mind and soul and to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves.
Only by doing this in practice can we claim to be true followers of Christ and give true meaning to the significance of his lowly birth. In short, Christmas has a message of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation. This message is one of hope and renewal because Jesus Christ yet remains the Messiah and Saviour of the world.