Christmas Address 2008

His Excellency Dr. Nicholas J. O. Liverpool, D.A.H.

Fellow Dominicans,

From the Midnight Mass of Christmas, we will hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: "For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

There is a cry all over the world for peace. We hear it in our Christmas carols. We read it on our Christmas cards. We also use it in our decorations during this Holy Season. The angels sang of it to the shepherds of Bethlehem: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!

We long for peace, and yet we look around us and see evidence of wars, terrorism, violence, hatred and division. Where is that peace that the Prince of Peace came to bring to the earth? As we search for it, we must bear in mind that Jesus himself told us that the peace he came to bring to us is a peace that the world cannot give.

Peace is more than the absence of war. It is achieved by working constantly as one people and nation for a more perfect reign of justice. It is also the fruit of love, for love goes beyond what justice can ensure.

In order to ensure a true peace for all the nations of the world, we must never tire in our efforts to secure a true justice for all peoples. We must do this with the motivation of love for God and love for our neighbor. As long as people experience injustice and the deprivation of the basic necessities of life and what is rightly theirs by virtue of that same justice, there will always be the temptation to violence and division. As the saying goes, if you want peace, then work for justice.

But this peace that Christ comes to bring must start in the individual hearts of all believers. We cannot change the structures of sin and injustice in our world until we each change our own hearts. We must first have peace in our souls, in our families, and in our parish communities before there will ever be peace in our wider community and in the world. Our divine adoption as children of God places the obligation on us to be peacemakers, always ready to be reconciled and to be instruments of reconciliation for others. Let us work to break down all the barriers of division and alienation among us, especially in our families and parishes.

The true spirit of Christmas reflects a dedication to helping those in need, to giving hope to those in despair, and to show them the kindness of heart and the generosity and love that is consistent with the message of the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace.

This Christmas as we share love and peace, and enjoy the traditions of this holiday, we should give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us as a people and as a nation, and as we look forward to the New Year, let us reflect on the things that will give glory to our Lord and seek to pursue them with a sense of purpose.

As always, we must be mindful and thankful to those who will be working tirelessly during the Holiday Season while the rest of us enjoy ourselves: members of the Police Force, Fire and Ambulance Services, the State Prisons, Customs and Immigration Departments; and the Doctors, Nurses and Health Care workers who labour to improve the well-being of our people. We must also acknowledge the social service workers and their assistants for their noteworthy contribution to the development of our communities. To the Teachers and support staff of all schools, I wish to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude for the invaluable investment that you have made in the country’s future generation.

To the parents, take joy in raising the beautiful gifts God has given in your wonderful children. Enjoy them, discipline them with gentleness and love, cherish them just as Joseph and Mary cherished and appreciated Jesus so as to allow them to fulfill their purpose in life. To the poor and helpless, the hunger, the homeless and oppressed, the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and the unloved, I pray that the love of the Prince of Peace comforts you.

As we look towards the dawning of a New Year with high expectations, let me on behalf of my wife and family and on my own behalf, wish all residents of Dominica a blessed and peaceful Christmas. I also pray that the New Year will bring peace, joy, happiness and good health; and the prosperity that can only come with God’s continued blessings and grace.

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