Christmas message from Bishop Neil Scantlebury, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgetown:
Dear brothers and sisters, in Advent we anticipate the coming of Our Lord and Saviour at Christmas. This is an exciting period because we are preparing to welcome the generous gift of God to us – His son Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh.
Let us think of Jesus as a baby. We know that babies bring enormous joy and happiness into our lives. We see in them pure innocence, an innocence that we were all given at birth. We also see in babies a peacefulness that is striking and contagious; we would do well to “steal” some of this character. Babies are the embodiment of hope, a hope that lights up gloom, despair and darkness.
The birth of Christ Jesus is a good time for us to reflect, like the Wise Men, on the things that really matter in our lives. We need to see where we can bring joy and happiness to family, friends and strangers.
In today’s world there is a lot of pain and suffering; in our very homes some of our relatives are facing challenges. In our neighbourhoods and our workplaces there are people who are in need of joy and happiness. Are you like the Christ child? Are you bringing joy and happiness?
Violence in its many forms is prevalent in our society. Every week the news headlines report many cases of violence. Peaceful solutions to conflicts seem not to be the way most people are adopting. Now more than ever, we must embrace the Prince of Peace and be guided by His values when we encounter conflicts.
This Christmas marks two years that we are under the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of lives have been lost. Thousands of livelihoods have been devastated. We have all been affected by the pandemic. During these times of hardship we should turn to the birth of Christ Jesus and recognise that in Him we have all the hope we need to bring us out of this pandemic.
Christmas season is a very busy time. I, therefore, invite you to pause and reflect on the true meaning of the season as expressed in John 3:16. See Jesus in every person you meet over the coming days. Take time to open your heart and give joy, happiness and hope to whomever you meet.
I thank each of you once again for your warm welcome and kindness as I assumed my duties as your bishop.
. . . . Let us pray for the church, the people of God. I would like to thank all those who worked tirelessly as well as those who participated in the Synod.
I wish you a blessed Christmas and pray that 2022 brings even more blessings, peace and hope to you, your family members and our diocese. I will continue to remember you and your loved ones in my prayers.