ROME — Celebrating the birth of Jesus, Christians should remember that he is present in each person who is sick, homeless, frail, neglected or needs help, said the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
“Those who disregard the poor scorn their creator. To wrong such persons is to commit a sin that calls to heaven for vengeance,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych in a Christmas pastoral letter.
“Those who stretch out their hand to the poor become rich with God and become partakers in the eternal goodness of the creator himself,” he wrote.
The letter, issued Dec. 13, was addressed to all members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout the world.
“The divine child is present in every destitute person who knocks on the door of our heart, as Joseph knocked on the doors of the inns in Bethlehem,” the major archbishop wrote.
“Today, the infant Jesus is present in the sick, the frail, the homeless and the neglected, who wait for someone to help them, to bring them gifts — the gold of a compassionate word, the incense of brotherhood, and the myrrh of immediate assistance, necessary for life,” he wrote.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty and suffering in the world, he wrote.
“All of us in the same way need the kind of help and strength that goes beyond human abilities and power.”
“For this reason, Christ’s Nativity is for us a ray of hope and joy in the midst of today’s dark fear and confusion, and each one of us must be open to God’s grace, which pours out on us without ceasing, even in the worst of times.”
The purpose of celebrating Christmas at a time of a pandemic, he said, “is to enlighten those who dwell in darkness.”
“If we are permitted to gather — with proper distancing, of course — may our eyes shine with a joy that is visible to all. Let us wear masks, when necessary, but let them not silence our traditional carols. Let us celebrate as we are able. Let us acclaim the birth of the Savior, however possible, so that even in this pandemic, we might bear witness to the most important truth of human history: that we are not alone or abandoned, because ‘God is with us!'”