His Excellency Archbishop of Malta Monsignor Paul Cremona, O.P. Christmas Message
PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD
Excellency The Lord Archbishop of Malta
Monsignor Paul Cremona, O.P.
His Excellency Monsignor Paul Cremona, O.P. - Archbishop of Malta
CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2012
European Union has designated 2013 as the Year of the Citizen. The aim is
for all Europeans to acknowledge their rights as European citizens, in order
that, in a spirit of democracy, any decisions they may take during their
lifetime will be for their benefit and that of others. It is for this
reason that I am here at MCAST, surrounded by young people who are undertaking
their studies at this institution – for these are the citizens of tomorrow.
As we can see from the account of the birth of Baby Jesus –
the Christmas narrative – democracy was not practiced in the days of Jesus.
Baby Jesus was born at the time when a census was called by Ceasar Augustus for
the land of Judah. According to the edict of the census, all those who
lived in Judah were duty bound to register their name in the city of their
birth. Joseph and Mary, who lived in Nazareth, had to travel to
Bethlehem, since Joseph descended from the line of David, who hailed from
Bethlehem. We all know that this caused great pains for the family, since
travel at the time was an arduous task and besides, Mary was about to give
birth. In order to fulfill their duty as citizens, Mary and Joseph had to
endure a lot of difficulties.
We ask ourselves: Did Joseph and Mary stand to gain
anything in return for enduring so much trouble in order to fulfill their duty?
It seems as if they had nothing to gain since the political situation at their
time was wrought with problems. Their land was occupied by the Romans and
those who were not Roman citizens were taken advantage of since they were heavily
taxed. Like Joseph and Mary, the local people were considered to be
second-class citizens who had many duties to fufill but few rights to
enjoy. This constituted a great injustice, so much so, that the Jews who
lived at the time of Jesus were eager to be freed from Roman rule. There
were those who thought that Jesus would liberate them from the domination of
Rome. Indeed, Jesus lived in a very undemocratic environment and the
people’s rights were not respected.
Democracy depends upon a balance between rights and duties.
In the absence of this balance, there is bound to be suffering, because the
citizens would not be afforded a fair deal. One’s citizenship should
ensure that one does not suffer. Citizens should be safeguarded from any form
of injustice that causes suffering. If, in spite of the fact that
you are a citizen, you are suffering, by being deprived from access to
education and health services, or you endure some form of injustice, then your
citizenship is not worth much.
Thank God, in our country and in Europe, the situation is
not so, because we enjoy democracy. In our case, it could well be that
the citizens expect too much from their country, or from the European Union,
without contributing enough towards the strengthening of democracy which seeks
the common good.
Leaders should do their utmost to ensure that any benefits
emanating from their country and the European Union are available to one and all,
and that nobody is marginalized for any reason whatsoever. Any form of
discrimination should be abolished. In an ideal situation, every citizen
will have enough of everything in order that people can uphold the dignity they
possess, which is inherent as children of God, and redeemed by Jesus
Christ. By taking on a human form, Jesus elevated the dignity of mankind
and in so doing, he communicated a message which demands due attention.
God showed preference towards the marginalized; when the birth of Jesus was
announced, it was the shepherds – those who lay on the periferies of society
- who first received this news.
For their part, all citizens are to offer their
contribution in order that society can achieve its objective in sharing the
common good among all citizens. Jesus taught us how to do this: his
principal message to us is to love one another and serve one another in
concrete ways. He gave us a prime example by becoming human and by giving
up his life for us. The good citizen is the one who does not only look
after his own interests in such a way that he is always on the look-out for
what benefits he can gain from the State; he is to ensure that others enjoy
these benefits also. Even more so, if he realizes that his
fellow-citizens are not being treated with dignity, then he should stand up for
them. Besides fulfilling his duty, the good citizen looks after his
country and contributes towards its livelihood by paying taxes justly and
offering voluntary service for the benefit of others.
I encourage the youths present, and all the people of Malta
and Gozo to be good citizens. One of the duties of the Christian is to be
a good citizen. I urge you, first and foremost to be good
am convinced that if you are good Christians, it follows that you will be good
citizens, since the Gospel presents to us those values which we need in order
to form part of society and create a democratic environment where the rights of
all citizens will be safe-guarded.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year, and I impart
upon you my blessings.