Christmas is coined from two words: Christ/ Mass; the Midnight Mass that was traditionally celebrated to mark the Nativity of Christ. The Birth of Jesus brought great Joy to the world. Indeed in many languages this Joy is expressed in the beautiful carols and in festive Christmas greetings. Here in Africa (Kenya),the birth of a child and especially the first born is greeted with songs, dances, smiles, ululations and gifts (Mwana wa mbeli). When the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, the angel spoke to the shepherds keeping the night watch over their flock and said: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a Saviour has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”(Lk.2:10-11).Joy is the acceptance of God’s only begotten Son among us. We welcome Jesus as the Emmanuel: God with us, bringing us salvation. Let us welcome Him with the gift of a joyful heart. Joy has been placed in the heart of every person and it is not something to be bought from someone.

Recently, I was on a bus heading to some place upcountry. Having booked late I sat on one of the unenviable back seats. Some stretches of the journey were rough and it was a bumpy ride. Next to me was a mother holding a baby girl. Every time we were tossed up to the roof of the bus the baby held tightly to the mother for her dear life. The presence of a dear mother brought a smile on her face. I looked up front to see this driver that was robbing us of our joy and peace. He seemed to be indifferent to the welfare of the passengers. On top of his seat was a placard on which it was written in big letters.. “Are you happy?” This was followed by a phone number just in case someone wanted to seek instant happiness. It is unlikely that genuine happiness can be obtained by surrendering oneself to an anonymous opportunist on the phone. Perhaps it could have been helpful if the driver had been more considerate and diligent.

Living in the world today is like being on a bumpy road, a rough journey towards our final destination. In his Book Resisting Happiness, the author Matthew Kelly observes that on this earth we are pilgrims and not tourists (Kelly,2016:147). We need to hold on to Jesus.What a friend we have in him. He walks with us, through ours streets, through the stress and quick pace of a world constantly bombarding us with stimuli which can leave no room for that interior silence in which we can perceive, gaze and hear his call. Do I know what brings joy or sorrow to my heart?

St. Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil.4:4)It is difficult to keep the joy of the Gospel in a world full of bad news. The doom and gloom of this world is exacerbated by indifference and rejection. One of the tragedies of our time is what Pope Francis has called the globalization of indifference (Francis,The Joy of the Gospel,2013 no.54);indifference to the suffering of others, to the plight of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. The Christmas season can rob us of the happiness we so badly crave for. The commercialized frenzy of shopping before Christmas has caught up with Africa and people are in danger of being left empty and lonely.

Christmas 2019 is also with us at CUEA. The rich diversity of cultures and nationalities of both staff and students should be an incentive for joyful celebrations. Let us create an atmosphere of Joy to lighten the fatigue and stress of our daily activities. As we wrap up the civil year and the semester, we remember with affection and gratitude our beloved colleagues who have gone before us in the course of the year to meet the Lord. We rejoice in the fact that the turnaround strategies of our Institution are gradually bearing fruit. We continue to earn our living by the sweat of our brows and wish our students timely completion of their programmes. The shepherds were at the right place and at the right time when the Good News was announced to them. CUEA is the place where God has placed you and me at this particular time and for a purpose. CUEA as a work place and temple of learning is our Bethlehem where Jesus comes to us as our special guest. Put a smile on someone’s face.

The individual families to which we belong are equally important. Let us be angels of Joy and peace to those around our table. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph teach us to convert our homes into places of Joy and peace through our actions, attitudes and attention to small details. May all of us foster Joy and Peace.

Wishing you all A Blessed Christmas full of JOY and Peace and a Happy New Year!!!

Siku kuu Njema!!, Feliz Navidad!!, Joyeux Noël!!, Frohe Weihnachten!!.

Rev. Prof. John Lukwata



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