December 23, 2020. President of Caritas Internationalis.
As 2020 draws to a close, our world needs more than ever the promise of God’s presence among us through the birth of His son.
Many of us have arrived at Advent worn down and disorientated by the dark shadow cast over our world by the coronavirus pandemic. Our hearts are heavy with the suffering we have felt and seen, the many deaths, and the disturbing reminders to keep our distance from our loved ones and from the rest of humanity.
The pandemic took many people by surprise, even though there had been numerous signs of grave imbalances and injustices in our world. The ruthless devastation of this virus has shaken us awake from our torpor.
“Stay awake!” says Jesus. “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, which was released this year, calls on us to recognize and travel new paths of hope: “For God continues to sow abundant seeds of goodness in our human family.”
The encyclical calls for us to open our hearts with gratitude to the possibility of universal love. This means seeing the value, worth, and beauty of every human being as they are, and allowing ourselves to be seen in all our vulnerability and to be loved too.
Caritas staff and volunteers across the globe have been bearers of this love during the pandemic. Through concrete actions, Caritas has been ensuring vulnerable communities aren’t left alone and can survive the pandemic as the world has faced lockdown.
People are astonished at how one tiny virus has upended the plans of the whole world. This is a reminder to all of us that our plans turn to dust in the face of God’s great and mysterious plan.
As we await the arrival of our Lord in Bethlehem, we are invited to ponder the presence of Christ in the poor and marginalized people in our world today. The baby Jesus was also tiny and insignificant, but the power of his love and actions towards those who society had forgotten echoes down the ages and still reverberates in our lives today.
At the end of a year where suffering and death have dominated, we eagerly welcome the coming of our Lord and the coming of the Kingdom of God.
As we prepare to say goodbye to 2020, I pray for the openness of heart that will allow us all to walk the path of faith, hope, and charity and to embrace the new life about to be born that is calling us towards universal love.
Wishing you a Christmas full of blessings.
Yours in Christ,
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
President of Caritas Internationalis