(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith appealed to all Christians celebrating Christmas to give greater preference to the spiritual aspect of the celebration instead of its commercial pomp and pageantry.
Addressing a media briefing at the Bishops House yesterday, he said that a special request had been made to the government to provide special security at churches to ensure the safety of those attending Christmas mass at midnight on December 24th and 25th morning mass.
The Cardinal noted that the government had responded positively to this request and had assured the head of the Catholic Church that additional security would be deployed to ensure the safety of churchgoers attending Christmas service.
He also appealed to all Christians to remember the over 300 people who had lost their lives during the Easter Sunday attacks and those wounded and alone and celebrate this significant event in a spiritual manner and refrain from unwanted expenditure and instead use that money to help those affected.
“The celebration of Christmas and its significance should be taken into consideration,” the Cardinal noted.
In a special message to all Christians he said, “Dear friends, brothers and sisters of the Christian faith and also all the other religious persuasions in this country as we are drawing closer to Christmas I would like to wish all of you a very happy, holy and blessed Christmas. As we know Christmas is a special occasion for the Christian faithful because we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ whom we call savior.
He was sent to earth by god his father in order to remove the effects of sin and selfishness from human lives and to ennoble human life showing us the way to overcome selfishness and sin. This birth happened in the most humble surroundings we can think of where he was not known and his birth was not known to the larger crowd of the people and he was born in silence in the manger. This birth shows us how to celebrate the birth of the lord in a humble and spiritually enriching way.
This year in Sri Lanka we have an added reason to celebrate this Christmas in a humble fashion because on Easter Sunday (21st April 2019) due to that terrible attack on our churches and hotels nearly 300 people lost their lives. Others were seriously injured, some of whom are still unconscious and still in hospital.
“There are many families that are broken completely and are living in a hopeless situation. Therefore, the rest of us cannot celebrate and enjoy and ignore the agony of these people. It is important for us therefore, this Christmas to spend it in a humble way.
Do enjoy and have family gatherings and exchange gifts. There is nothing wrong in that. But, in all these things think about these people who have suffered this terrible loss and if you can help them please do. If you can show your solidarity through your prayers please do that. Please tell your children too to think of the plight of these victims of the Easter Sunday attacks who have had their hopes dashed due to this unfortunate incident.”
He also called on the Catholic community to extend a hand of friendship to all races and religions. “Let us also extend our hand in friendship to all the other communities and extend our hand of friendship to all other religions living among us without any ranker or ill feeling towards these communities. They are living in this country as brothers and sisters with us and therefore, it is our duty to extend our hands in friendship to them and join together.
Therefore, I urge all Christians to make this Christmas very special for your own celebration and the celebration of the festivities. I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a very holy and happy New Year.”