Christians in Seychelles join the rest of the world on Sunday, December 25, for the Christmas celebration in their usual traditional ways as all mandatory COVID-19 restrictions have been removed.
In the island nation in the western Indian Ocean, believers start the day with mass celebrated in their respective parishes.
As Catholics and Anglicans celebrate this important day, the respective leaders of Seychelles’ two Dioceses — Bishop Alain Harel and Bishop James Wong — sent out their Christmas messages.
In his message, Bishop Harel called on believers to walk with God who never stops coming to us.
“God never ceases to come to us on our human journey and to walk by our side. God is the Breath of our breath that gives us the joy of living. He is the one who sustains us by strengthening our failing hands, making firm our weak knees when the road is difficult,” he said.
Harel called on believers to walk with God who never stops coming to us. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Harel said that Jesus, between the crib and the cross “took time to get to know his brothers and sisters in humanity and for three years he walked a lot and that the Gospels show us that Jesus is constantly on the road.”
“Pope Francis invites us to a synodal walk in order to adjust our steps to the steps of Jesus, God with us, the one who comes and goes in search of people from all the nations of the earth,” added the Bishop.
He said that “by allowing ourselves to be led by Jesus, we are called to fight against the leprosy of modern times: alcohol and drugs. Sexual abuse and human trafficking. Following Jesus, the prince of peace, we are invited to reduce violence, starting with verbal violence, which always leads to physical violence.”
“With the birth of a child, a new future begins! By allowing Jesus Emmanuel to be born in each of us, in each of our families, in the church family, in society – the Seychellois family, a future is opening,” said Harel.
The Anglican Bishop, meanwhile, said that Jesus did not come into the world in a spectacular way, or as a warrior, or an emperor but was born in a family, in a human family with its ups and its downs.
The Anglican Bishop said that Jesus’ birth into a family is especially important for us to ponder on in our churches. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
“The fact that Jesus was born in a human family showed the value that God placed in families. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. So, it is important for us to perceive His presence in our families. During this Christmas season, let us reflect on the importance of Jesus’ family. There are two reasons why this family is important: one being from the divine perspective and the other from the human perspective,” he said.
Wong said it was necessary for Jesus to become part of a family because had He not been part of a family, he would not have fully experienced life as a human.
“In the Holy Family, as it can be for all of us, the Son of God experienced all of the joy, frustration, peace, pain, and love that are found within a family. God became human and embraced every aspect of the human experience to give us the opportunity to enter into communion with Him. The time Jesus spent with his family was a time of preparation. While our specific vocations vary, what all of us have in common is a baptismal calling to love,” he added.
The Anglican Bishop said that “Jesus’ birth into a family is especially important for us to ponder on in our churches. We are told in the Gospel that the Holy Family pondered their experiences in their hearts. We, likewise, in our churches, must ponder on our experiences to see how God is revealing himself to us in the midst of life in the family.”
“Our churches must be communities of love like the Holy Family was a community of love. In our families, we should give of ourselves, and learn to be more self-sacrificial as Jesus demonstrated in his family. Jesus gave us the gift of himself. As we reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ presence in his family, let us also reflect on the meaning of his presence in our families and his presence in our churches,” concluded Wong.
Both Bishops ended their messages by wishing all believers a Blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year.
Seychelles has a predominantly Roman Catholic population, with more than 70 percent being believers, followed in congregation size by Anglicans, Hindus, Muslims, other faiths and Christian denominations.
Source: Seychelles News Agency