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H.E. Mar Mathew Arackal, Bishop of Kanjirapally
Dear loving sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,
I wish you peace and love of the blessed Christmas!

The angels welcomed Jesus' birth signing: "Glory to God in the highest heaven" (Lk.2: 14). Later, the crowds would welcome Jesus to Jerusalem, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!" (Lk.19:38). That peace is the 'shalom' of God – life experienced in all its fullness, richness, and completeness in accord with the will of God. The angelic song conveys the message that true peace on earth is available only to those with the good will to receive it by doing the will of God, thus giving Him glory.

Reserve a room for Jesus in your heart:
Christmas asks us a tough question. Do we close the doors of our hearts to Jesus looking for a place to be reborn in our lives? There is no point in being sentimental about the doors slammed by the folk in Bethlehem, when there is no room in our own hearts for the same Jesus coming in the form of the needy. We need to reverence each human life, and to treat others respectfully as the living residences of the incarnate God. To neglect the old, to be contemptuous of the poor and to have no thought for the unemployed and the lonely, is to ignore those individuals with whom Christ has so closely identified Himself. Hence, we all need to examine ourselves daily on the doors we close to Jesus.

Experience Jesus the Emmanuel:
The real meaning of Christmas actually is Emmanuel, God-with-us - God coming down to us; God coming alongside us; God seeking us out; God revealing Himself to us; God bringing us forgiveness, healing, comfort, moral strength, guidance. Each one of us has, deep down in our souls, an incredible hunger: a hunger for purpose and meaning; a hunger to feel and celebrate the redeeming, forgiving, sustaining love of God; a hunger to be in the presence of God. Christmas is special because it reminds us concretely that God is indeed with us. In every circumstance of life, even when we are frightened or lonely or in sorrow, God is with us. So let's embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Listen to God speaking to us every day and respond promptly as the shepherds did:
There isn't one of us in this Christmas season who hasn't had God speak to him or her in some personal way. It may not have happened as dramatically as it did with those shepherds, but God has indeed spoken to our soul and spirit. But, too often, we chose not to listen. Have we ever had an argument with a member of our family, and heard that inner voice deep down within us telling us to stop, and we knew we should stop? Have we ever had that same inner sense of knowing we needed to do something or to avoid doing something? That was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us, the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Jesus our Savior. Whether or not we chose to listen in those cases really isn't the point. The point is that God has indeed spoken to us and He continues to speak to us right now. How are we going to respond? Will we respond as Mary did, as the shepherds did and as the magi did? Or not?

May this Christmas be a very happy day for you and for everyone around you!
May this blessed and holy season bring blessings that will last through the coming New Year!

Mar Mathew Arackal
Bishop of Kanjirapally
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