Circular Letter of the Prior General
Christmas is coming this year, too
To all the Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
My dear Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers and friends,
Christmas is coming this year, too! It will probably be less elaborate and unadorned, but the God-Child will be born and will come to fill us with peace and love. Neither the pandemic we are suffering from, nor any other scourge afflicting our world can deprive us of Christmas. As the Angel proclaimed on that Christmas Eve, Do not be afraid; for a Saviour has been born for you (Cf. Lk 2: 10-11).
With this good news I send you my very best wishes that, this year, the God-Child will enter our lives, our homes, our communities and every part of world, filling us all with light and hope, especially where suffering and marginalisation are hurting most.
Christmas is coming this year, too! It is true that we are living through this year under the burden of the coronavirus pandemic that has changed so many things and the way we live our lives, and has brought great sadness and loneliness, with such a high death toll. It has also brought economic, social, ethical and spiritual consequences. And it is still not over, and while we hope that it soon be overcome, we continue to suffer from the uncertainty that the pandemic is causing worldwide.
This pandemic, as other situations that we may easily forget, has demonstrated above all the vulnerability of the human being. We have technological and all kinds of progress, with the result that, especially in certain parts of the world, people imagined that we were virtually immune, and very close to becoming “superhuman” in the minds of some philosophers and technocrats. But it has only taken a single virus to put the world in check, together with our most advanced health care systems, our economies, and all the forecasts we were relying on. Let us hope that this will teach us humility to build a more humane and fraternal world, with greater humility and compassion, and be less overbearing.
This is one of the messages that Christmas is sending us, as we prepare to celebrate it with special attention this year. For we shall be celebrating Christmas this year, too, beset by so many difficulties, but Our Lord’s birth will help to shed light on the situation in which we are living and suffering. We have to learn a lesson for the future, so that something new, creative and above all more just and more fraternal, can come into being for our world, along the lines of the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, recently published by Pope Francis. Christmas is coming this year, too! It will surely be more simpler and less boisterous, but also more deeply felt, and more consistent with the first Christmas, when Jesus was born alone and poor.
During this pandemic, we are learning to reach out to hope, to find the personal, social and religious resources that are enabling us to see that it is possible to move beyond this complicated situation, provided that we do so in solidarity and with faith. We have no idea when it will end, but our hope in the vaccines and new treatments are enabling us to glimpse the end of this "nightmare" coming ever closer. We also trust that this experience will help to improve our health and social care systems and create a more fraternal economy, concerned to ensure the rights of everyone, especially the most needy... and so many other dreams that we hope to see come true, for ourselves, our families and our Order
For we are full of hope: Christmas is coming this year, too! albeit more austere and unadorned. The light and hope that the God-Child brings to the world, to the sick, those who are suffering and victims of aggression, marginalisation or natural disasters, will fill this year's Christmas with its full significance and meaning. With the hope based on the simplicity and humility of the Babe born in Bethlehem, and on the humility of all men and women of goodwill.
Humility, hope, fraternity and hospitality. These are key to getting through the pandemic and they are also key to enabling us to experience Christmas profoundly and joyfully. Christmas is coming this year, too! Let us welcome it as Mary, the Mother of Jesus, welcomed it when she welcomed her Son in hope and faith, firmly believing in Him and becoming His first Disciple.
I wish to thank you to all the members of our Hospitaller Family of St. John of God throughout the world, who have been spending this year serving the sick and the needy, especially because of the coronavirus, with such great commitment and sacrifice. Many Brothers and Co-workers have also been infected by the virus, and some have also died from it. We offer our sincere thanks to all of you, and for those who have returned to the Lord we offer our prayers and pay tribute to them.
And to everyone, Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers, Benefactors and friends of the Order, our sick guests and those being cared for in our Centres, and your families, I wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2021, which we hope we see the end of the coronavirus. And speaking on behalf of the whole Order, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Brothers and Co-workers who will be at the service of the guests in all our Centres over these coming days, especially on Christmas Day.
Together with all the members of the Hospitaller Family of St. John of God at the General Curia, Brothers and Collaborators, I wish you all a Happy Christmas full of peace and joy!
Brother Jesús Etayo