Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB, the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), calls the holy season of Christmas a season of hope and healing.
“We need healing,” said Cardinal Bo acknowledging the suffering and human brokenness for the past two years, with particular reference to Myanmar.
Cardinal Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, delivered a special message to experience the power of the manger and live the Christmas message of hope.
“Human nature is to retaliate, seek vengeance …like that Palestine (of Jesus’ time), today thousands have become victims of man-made disasters and wounds.”
“You can never win with arms,” Cardinal Bo said.
“This Christmas, we need to start the process of reconciliation in this nation. I appeal to all that this nation can survive only through the message of the first Christmas. To those who are powerful, I appeal, Christ’s show of power is in service, the power of reconciliation.”
Cardinal Bo says humans cannot afford to embark on a path of violence, vengeance and war. Cardinal Bo spoke out to “friends who could be offended by the Christmas message of love, peace, and reconciliation; these are not qualities of the cowards.”
“Healing takes courage. Healing makes us human. That is the message of incarnation. That is the message of Christmas.”
Cardinal Bo advises simple steps for simple people to “seek peaceful solutions.” Cardinal Bo says suffering should “not throw us into the bottomless pit of despair and vengeance. If that happens, the enemy has won, the devil has destroyed the Christmas spirit.”
Cardinal Bo reminded that the first Christmas started with a journey of hope amid chaos and anxiety faced by Joseph, Mary and Child Jesus.
“Because our Emmanuel dirtied his feet in the mud of humanity and bloodied his hands on the supreme sacrifice of the Cross and proved evil has an expiry date and the goodwill triumph, let us turn our steps towards hope.”
Cardinal Bo expressed the urgency of the Christmas message for the people of Myanmar.
Cardinal Bo made an appeal: What this wounded nation (Myanmar) needs healing, not more arms and weapons. This country has more men with arms and weapons than doctors. This a repugnant aberration. Let us become a nation of healers - for Jesus is the eternal healer.
“We as a nation urgently need that message today. Never did we have such a great struggle to preach a message of hope and peace of the Christmas as we confront today. Yet never is the greater need for hope of peace and justice than in this 2021 Christmas. With prayer in our lips and hope in our hearts, we gather today to contemplate peace and reconciliation in this nation,” Cardinal Bo addressed brothers and sisters in Myanmar.
Cardinal offered prayers for those away from their homes, those in the jungle camps, in places of violence, darkness, starvation, fear and anxiety. Cardinal Bo prayed that Myanmar “hear the voice of angels for peace and reconciliation and we can all come back home.”
The prelate reminded that “the first Christmas speaks of a simple family, Joseph, the carpenter, and his pregnant wife. The situation forced them to relocate, be displaced and ultimately become refugees. We relive that simple family’s powerlessness, its flight in the merciless winter to Bethlehem, their struggle to find a place for the birth of the child.”
The Cardinal stressed that “hope as a virtue has an audacity, unmatched by any force. This Christmas, we are called to celebrate that audacity of hope - that came through a poor Jewish family on that grateful Christmas night of God’s intervention in history.”
Cardinal Bo urges us to live the first Christmas, identifying suffering and despair in our context.
“We realize how close we are to the family of Jesus and the first Christmas: pushed to the margins, impoverished, living in anxiety, fleeing homes, becoming internally displaced people and refugees. We see a Mary in the women who bore children away from homes, we see Joseph who flees danger to life, we see the manger in the plight of thousands in need of shelter.”
Cardinal Bo invited people “to speak more of peace,” reminding that amidst “suffocating gloom, the Angels sang the song of hope.”
“A new Jesus is waiting to be born in each one of us. A Jesus who never compromises with the evil yet can preach peace, a Jesus who took on the powers to be and yet showed power comes from service, a Jesus who castigated hypocrites and yet preached forgiveness,” the prelate said.
Cardinal Bo expressed hope that a new world of peace is possible through compassion and justice.