12/17/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Bishop of Faisalabad urges Christians to experience Christmas with the anxiety and joy felt by the shepherds in Bethlehem

by Skafique Khokhar
​Mgr Joseph Arshad shares with AsiaNews his Christmas message. He spoke about the announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, who were "filled with joy and love because they found the little child Saviour of the world." Citing Pope Benedict XVI, he said "that Christmas is an event, a fact". Noting that current challenges of humanity are a warning to Christians, he reiterated Pope Francis’ call to be as humble as "God who is revealed through Jesus, of humble origins" and serve others "as Jesus did."

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Every time "we hear the story of Christ’s birth, we remember that God is not distant or disinterested.” Instead, “he decided to come among us. God’s eternal word chose to be human and establish his dwelling among us,” said Mgr Arshad Joseph, bishop of Faisalabad, in his Christmas message.

For the prelate, the faithful must experience in such a time "the same anxiety and joy as the shepherds of Bethlehem did. [. . .] If we want to experience the real joy and the 'Light of Love' and be inundated by their gifts, fulfilling our greatest dreams and desires, we have to go through the experience of Bethlehem in our lives. This way, we will know that the living God continues to dwell among us. "

Speaking about the simplicity of the place where the Son of God was born and where the shepherds reacted with wonder and joy, he said, "At first, the news reached the most ordinary of people. When the angels appeared to the shepherds who were tending their sheep with tenderness, their first reaction was a combination of anxiety, anguish and fear.”

“They asked themselves whether it was nothing but a dream; yet they went in haste to see with their own eyes. When they reached the stable in Bethlehem, they found God’s house. Those shepherds were filled with joy and love because they found the little child Saviour of the world."

With the same humility shown by the shepherds, Christians today must rediscover the beauty of Christmas, when "the Son of God, Saviour of the world, was born for us in Bethlehem."

"In today's world, humanity faces many great challenges,” the bishop said. “Our world is shaped by many factors: the good and the bad, unity and division, wealth and poverty, violence and peace. All these things are sending a warning to Christians, to unveil afresh the pertinence of the human family in the perspective of Christian life, in its relationship with God, creation and one’s neighbours."

Citing Pope Benedict XVI, he explained “that Christmas is not a simple announcement: it is an event, a fact, which credible witnesses who personally saw, heard and touched Jesus Christ, who was born for us, to be our Saviour.”

Citing Pope Francis who told “Christians to reflect on two points.The first is that God revealed Himself through Jesus, not as a powerful God of the universe, but as one of humble beginnings. For this reason, to look like Jesus, we must not put ourselves above others! We are to be humble and serve others.” The second "is that if Jesus became one of us, then whatever we do for our brothers and sisters, we do it for him."

"As the universal Church celebrates the Year of Mercy,” Mgr Arshad said in concluding, “we recognise that Jesus Christ teaches us that mercy, forgiveness, joy, peace and justice are possible and that they are not found only in our dreams. They are possible and real, because Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, is true mercy, forgiveness, joy, peace and justice."

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