Christmas is already looming on the horizon! A joyful feast indeed not only for Christians but also for others who are not adherents to the Christian faith. According to one of the websites, Christmas is the second most popular annual feasts worldwide after New Year, followed by Eid al-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha, Valentine, Diwali, etc. Surprisingly, different people have different reasons for celebrating this day and not all Christians celebrate it because of its Christian understanding of ‘God’s incarnation in Jesus-Christ’. The key message that seems to be appealing to many in this feast is that of peace and good-will echoed in the message of the angels to the shepherds: “…….and peace on earth to all people of good will.” (Lk. 2: 14). Wouldn’t this feast, therefore, in a way be an expression of humanity’s longing for the incarnation of peace and good-will on the earth?
The Christian understanding of Christmas was the foundation of Cardinal Lavigerie’s preference for and recommendation of the tout-à-tous (making ourselves all things to all) to his missionaries as the apostolic method par excellence of witnessing to the Gospel and Kingdom values. Inspired by St. Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 9: 22; also Phil. 2: 1-11), he sees in the tout-à-tous “God’s way of doing things, the divine way.” How relevant but also how demanding is this instruction of our Founder in the multi-cultural and multi-faith globalised world of today? And to what extent does it urge us to purify our intentions so that we do not use it as a tactic to convert others to our faith community! How are we transmitting this divine way of doing things to our spiritual sons and daughters who are members of the Christian communities of which we are so proud to be the spiritual parents and founders through our predecessors?
When our spiritual sons and daughters in the local churches show hatred and aversion to the ‘different-others’ especially those of different faith communities, e.g. Islam and ATR, is it not a sign of failure on our side for not having passed on to them this spiritual and apostolic divine way essentially enshrined in the Christmas message? A Luganda proverb says that: “Ennyonyi enkulu y’eyigiriza ento okwonoona mu kisulo.” (The old bird teaches the young ones to foul the nest). Would this mean that we ourselves have fallen short of living out the depth and breadth of this divine method?
May this Christmas season be yet another privileged moment of prayer and reflection and may it help us to rediscover the divine wisdom hidden in this instruction of our Founder, a tradition which we are so proud to name as a constitutive element of our missionary identity and our way of doing mission.
I wish each and everybody a very Happy Christmas and a blessed and fruitful new year.