His Excellency Dr. Nicholas J. O. Liverpool, D.A.H.
Christmas enables us to appreciate the selflessness of love when God came down to earth and became one with us. In order to fully appreciate this fact our faith in God must be real, and our trust in him must be sincere. We should not merely celebrate it as an event of history, or as a time to enjoy a fine holiday with friends and family. Christmas should also be a time to reflect on the past, to shake away doom and gloom and to spread joy. Throughout the history of Christianity, nations and individuals have used this season as an occasion to call a truce and to reach out to each other to share good news and to seek lasting peace.
I always look forward with a special kind of anticipation to this time of year to extend cordial greetings to all Dominicans, for no other celebration brings out the best in human nature.
The Gospel according to St. Luke informs us that "An Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord".
This is indeed an extraordinary event for God Himself, the Creator and King of the universe took flesh and human form and became one of us. His birth was a sign that humanity and everything connected to it is so good that God's own Son by His coming confirmed that all that God had created is good. Through His life, His teaching and His ministry, He demonstrated who is the true Lord and Master of the universe. For everything there is comes from Him, and is caused by Him and exists for Him.
As we stand beside the manger of Christ at this festive time, let us ask for the gift of gratitude to God, since everything that we have, our life, each other, our family, our job, our talent, our environment, and our salvation, is God's gift to us. On the occasion of this great feast it is my wish that we would truly discern who we are in the eyes of God. We are His beloved children who have been abundantly blessed and who on our part ought always to give thanks to our Creator and Heavenly Father and to the newborn Jesus, our Lord and saviour. We need to desire a respect for everything that our God bestows upon us.
At this time of celebration I urge you to spare a thought on the need to thank God for His tremendous blessings, and to cherish and protect the gifts with which He has blessed us. Foremost is the need to preserve and protect the many natural resources that we have. Climate Change has become an issue of global concern in recent years. Delegates from all over the world took part in the International Conference in Copenhagen and were very recently in Cancun in Mexico to take the process forward. They are determined to find ways in which to avoid the catastrophe which today threatens the human race. A threat which scientists claim has been caused by the selfish and careless stance towards our environment. I hope and pray that many of us realize that we are not the real owners or lords of our planet and that in fact nature is God's gift to humankind, a gift which needs to be respected and used within reason. This is indeed what the Scriptures teach us: "Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and to take care of it".
Let us also make a determined effort to rid ourselves of resentment, anger, greed, selfishness, hate and everything else that could harden our hearts, and prevent us from openly accepting the message of Christ, and following in his footsteps. Let us share with those who are disadvantaged and in need, the warmth and joy of Christmas. Show them the generosity, the kindness of heart, the mercy, the care and love that is consistent with the message of the Christ Child. Feed the hungry, visit the sick and bring them comfort. The aged and the elderly should also be remembered. Help them reminisce about Christmases of the past and assist them to find joy in the Christmas that we now celebrate.
It is also important for us to reflect on our good fortune and be thankful for the fact that our lives have been spared and our island saved this year from the ravages of any major disasters and human calamity. As we approach a new year we must pray that our Almighty Father will continue to keep His watchful eye over our beloved country and protect all its citizens from harm and misfortune.
So as we celebrate Christmas this year, let us give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us, not forsaking those, whether they are our neighbours or citizens of neighbouring countries, who may not be as fortunate as we are, particularly our sister countries of Haiti, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who have been seriously affected by ravages of one kind or another.
As I end my Christmas greeting, it is my sincere wish that you may all have a true awareness of God's love for us and may our hearts always overflow with gratitude for this great gift, and that we may be guided by the words of Oren Arnold:
"To your enemy, forgiveness
To an opponent, tolerance
To a friend, your heart
To a customer, service
To all, charity
To every child, a good example
To yourself, respect"
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 Dominicans at home and abroad a blessed and peaceful Christmas. I also pray that the New Year will bring you peace, joy, happiness and good health; and the prosperity that can only come with God's continued blessings and grace.