Migrants’ memories of Christmas, New Year
December 22, 2020
From ‘Sigh, sigh, sigh’ to ‘Hooray, hoorah!’
December 22, 2020

Christmas joy, sadness and solidarity

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

I pray that your journey through Advent was prayerful. As we waited in joyful expectation of the birth of the Christ child, I am certain that, like me, you could not fail to be moved once again by the incredible gift God gave us by sending His only Son to save us; to bring us out of the darkness into the light of His love. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

Pope Francis reminds us that “Advent is a continuous call to hope. It reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal and to its fullness, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. God is present in the history of humanity, He is the ‘God-with-us’, He walks beside us to support us.”

These are comforting words to many, including me. In 2016, I spent Christmas day with my father in a hospital in London. Each of his children took turns to ensure that he was not alone.

Sadly, when we thought that he was ready to return home, he died in hospital on  December 28. Each Christmas season since then has been tinged with sadness for us, his family.

In the midst of your celebrations, find time to reach out to others in their time of grief; to the homeless, the poor and vulnerable, the marginalised, the lonely, the depressed, “warring families”, the victims of crime, the mentally ill, the sick, those in prison, migrants, and refugees, the unemployed, those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, those who wait each day for news of their loved ones who are missing.

The Christmas season is a time when we all think of giving to others. Research shows that giving makes people happy. As American poet Maya Angelou said: “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” While the act of “giving” is not all that is required to transform society, it is an essential component of a just society.

The list of those who are experiencing a ‘blue Christmas’ may be long, but, as disciples of Christ, our mission is to build a civilisation of love. We cannot truly love with closed hearts and clenched fists.

Pope St John Paul II reminded us that it is important for Christians “to develop ‘a globalisation of solidarity’ with hearts that beat in love with the world’s poorest, as well as for those in trouble closer to home.”

Link this concept to the teaching in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship. At the heart of this encyclical is a call to action. In it the Holy Father encourages us to rebuild “our wounded world” through the framework of the Good Samaritan.

We are all “fellow travellers sharing the same flesh”, members of “a single human family”, “brothers and sisters all.” It is for this reason that we have a duty to reach out to the “least” among us and to those in need of our assistance.

Jesus came to show us how to live. Do we see Him in the faces of our brothers and sisters who need us to lend a listening ear; a shoulder to cry on; spiritual, financial, or other support?

“We are growing ever more distant from one another” (Pope Francis).  Let us be salt and light by building a society rooted in care and compassion for our neighbour.

My elderly friend who was “locked down” abroad, has recently been exempted and has returned to T&T. She is still recovering from the distressing loneliness she experienced. Her faith sustained her.

As Pope Francis has said: “The Lord never abandons us; He accompanies us through the events of our lives to help us discover the meaning of the journey, the meaning of everyday life, to give us courage when we are under duress or when we suffer. In the midst of life’s storms, God always extends His hand to us and frees us from threats.”

This Christmas let us open our hearts in a new way to the message of the birth of Jesus. On behalf of CCSJ members, I pray that Christ, the Prince of Peace, will fill our lives with peace and love, strengthen our faith, and spur us to act to  alleviate the cares and the suffering of others.

It is together that we will develop a culture of generosity in T&T/the world. It is together that we will heal our broken communities.


What is more, memory is the horizon of hope. Many times, in the darkness of wars and conflicts, the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions. It can unleash new energies and kindle new hope in individuals and communities.

Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2020

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee