12/15/2011, 00.00
Send to a friend

A Christmas of emergencies

by Bernardo Cervellera
Christmas 2011 is marked by economic crisis, unemployment, and anxiety, even among wealthy Chinese millionaires. Post-tsunami Japan, Post-earthquake Indonesia and Turkey, Post-flood Vietnam, Thailand and Laos show that there is also an ecological emergency. In all these situations the Churches of Asia are laying seeds of hope that help the fatigue of many churches of the West. Even God was born in an emergency.
Rome (AsiaNews) - Christmas 2011 approaches marked by emergencies. First, the economic crisis that is choking the whole world. Beyond the numbers and percentages, the often incomprehensible jargon of the financial newspapers, it is consuming the life and livelihoods of millions of people who are unemployed and eroding the fragile unity of nations, once held together by the desire for well-being and possible opportunities to achieve it.

Even in China, more than half of its millionaires are planning to leave the country in order to invest and live in safer places for their wealth, more law-abiding nations, with fewer tensions and social unrest. After having enriched themselves leaving the rest of the population in poverty, after using the Communist Party to accumulate their riches, and after making China the most polluted country on earth, they are now looking for a quiet place to enjoy luxury and tranquility.

But it is doubtful that they will find one: the economic emergency is afflicting all four corners of the planet and everywhere people are anxious about their present and future.

There is also an ecological and weather emergency. This year the world - and Asia in particular – has witnessed earthquakes in Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, the tsunami that swept away the lives of tens of thousands of Japanese people, putting the survival of the nation at risk with the ensuing nuclear crisis in Fukushima , floods in Southeast Asia which for months have tried the patience of Thais, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Laotian, Burmese, destroying the rice fields, their main source of nourishment, and blocking industrial development.

But the real emergency is that of God and man. Man who does not see the world as a created gift, who considers his fellow being as prey, and the earth as a land of conquest. He who eliminates God from his horizon, eliminates mankind, subjecting it to his power and humiliating it. There is an emergency for the respect of man, for his dignity, his civil and religious liberty. In this, the atheist and materialist world in the West and East, that bows to the god of finance, blends seamlessly with the intransigence of Islamic fundamentalist or other (abused) religions, to affirm the supremacy of one group, the power a few over the multitude.

The Christmas of more than 2000 years ago was also a Christmas of emergency. Caesar Augustus had decided a census "of all the earth", perhaps to measure his power, perhaps to calculate an increase in taxes on his subjects to guarantee them peace in exchange for submission.

Even the birth of the Son of God took place in a state of emergency: during a journey to Bethlehem, in a stable because "there was no place for them in the inn". Neither were the first months of his life, or early years, easy: surrounded by violence, the massacre of the innocent little saints, persecuted, like a refugee fleeing to safer ground ...

No, God is no stranger to emergencies: he knows them from the beginning of his adventure on earth and has crossed them all to his very death. Upon a mankind terrified by them, He poured the gift of His life, His truth and His love.

If God is born, all emergencies have a meaning, which is a love which is stronger than everything and everyone.

Without Him, it becomes foolishly reasonable to rely on the Mayan calendar that promises the destruction of earth and man, throwing away all hope and taking the side of those who want to destroy people and things.

For over 2000 years the Church has proclaimed the victory of God’s truth and love over desperation. In our daily work, reporting on the witness of the Church in Asia, we are amazed at the signs of hope that Christians can offer in the most extreme circumstances: in constantly remembering the bishops and priests detained in Chinese or Vietnamese prisons, in the commitment to charity towards the victims of earthquakes and floods; in offering friendship to the youth of the Arab world who are searching for greater dignity and a future, claiming freedom and space in fundamentalist regimes. We hope that something of this vital spring of the Churches in Asia communicates itself to the Churches of the West for the task of new evangelization assigned by Benedict XVI. By now no emergency has the power to immobilize us because the loving power of Jesus Christ abides in them all. Merry Christmas.
Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Growing unemployment in the Philippines, also due to corruption and waste
The peace of Christmas and freedom of religion
AsiaNews, Christmas carols and cathedral windows
The future Pope will travel to Asia
Church of Korea, protagonist of the Congress of Catholic Laity