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  • Nigel Akuani

Catholic Bishops Conference celebrates Christmas Eucharist

Port Moresby: As a momentous expression of gratitude toward the birth of Jesus Christ, a special Christmas Eucharist was hosted by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI) on Monday 20th December 2021, at its headquarters in Gordons.

The Christmas Mass had as its main celebrant the Archbishop of Port Moresby, His Eminence Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC, and was co-celebrated by Fr Giorgio Licini PIME, General Secretary of CBCPNGSI. In attendance of the celebration were Religious, staff of CBCPNGSI and of the Catholic Church Health Services PNG.

In his homily, Cardinal Ribat, made special emphasis on the significance of Christmas and said it was a time of tribute to our Lord Jesus Christ for his sacrifice into the world. “This is the season to be joyful and to reflect on the work we have accomplished this year in service and commitment to the Catholic Church, and for our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Despite the COVID-pandemic, we have to rise and live above it in confidence, and to always remind ourselves not to be afraid and that we are always guided and protected by the presence of God. Through the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ into heaven, we have overcome the world and its problems,” he added.

He described how Christmas was the time when God came down to Earth in the flesh to be among his people through His Son Jesus and urged the faithful to have faith in the Lord during these troubling times. “Today’s generation of people are constantly surrounded by problems, but in the face of sheer adversity and life’s tests, we must remember that God is always with us in these trials,” he stressed.

Cardinal Ribat recalled how Mary, mother of Jesus, despite feeling anxious because of what was foretold of her, was visited and reassured by an angel that God would not abandon her. “Mary questioned God because she was unsure and afraid. It was through the intercession of the angel Gabriel, that she was comforted and told that God had chosen her and blessed her to be the handmaid of the Lord,” he explained.

He further stated, “In the same way, in the work that we are doing for the Church, we will have challenges and moments of doubt and uncertainty. But we are always to remember that God is with us even through this post-pandemic impact of the coronavirus.”

Reflecting on the phrase, ‘We pray together, we work together, we suffer together, we celebrate together’, by St Charles Lwanga, a Ugandan Convert who was martyred for his faith, Cardinal Ribat said that life was about living as Christ did. “It is not about our individual selves, but caring for others and having a relationship with our friends, families, and God, through the Christian deeds we practice,” he advised.

A light luncheon was provided afterward that displayed a strong sense of friendship, warmth and solidarity, typical of Christmas, though amidst the current pandemic.

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