Info & News
Christmas Eve Homily
of Father Budi Kleden
Dear brothers and sisters,
“The people who walked in the darkness.” This is the beginning of the prophet Isaiah’s text
in the first reading in this holy night. This phrase alludes to our situation during this time of
the COVID-19 pandemic. Namely, there is darkness caused by an invisible virus. Since the end of
December 2019, this same virus spread when the first cases were reported in China. Since then, every
day, the darkness is widening, covering all countries. Some countries first thought that they had
everything necessary to protect themselves from the pandemic. In the end, they have to admit that it
is not easy to close their borders from the virus, as they are doing with the migrants and refugees.
The darkness covers our Congregation as well. Almost two hundred confreres in all four zones were or
are still infected with the virus; nine of them have lost their lives to the virus. A similar
situation we also experienced in our Collegio community.
At individual level the darkness is shown in the cancellation of many programs and plans for our
work, visits, and studies. We have faced challenges with on-line classes, closing of libraries, and
staying at home because of quarantine restrictions, thus not directly contacting others. We have
experienced feelings of despair and confusion about the future.
In the darkness, we feel insecure and fearful. However, the prophet Isaiah writes that people “who
walked in the darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light
has shone.” This is because the Lord does not leave his people without orientation. The Lord
intervenes, giving a light of hope. And Christmas tells us that that child promised and expected
from ages is now born in Bethlehem by a migrant couple, in impoverished circumstances, wrapped in
swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. As Saint Paul writes in his letter to Titus, the grace of
God saving all people is manifested in this reality, far away from power and wealth. Here, in the
crib, the Lord, who saves us, is hidden.
I want to underline three points on how this light changes our darkness:
The first is the necessity to combat all that does not serve and promote life, imprisons us
in fear, and makes us pessimists. The light helps us see things and attitudes which cause
conflicts, blame, and accusations to others, leading to polarization. We need to overcome
these thoughts and actions, which function as a virus, paralyzing the good’s enthusiasm and
inflicting hatred. The prophet Isaiah speaks powerfully about this necessity to stop evil.
This is possible by smashing the yoke that burdens us, burning every cloak rolled in blood.
Now, in this holy night, before the Word made flesh, let us ask the Lord to break the
arrogance, egoism, and racism that justifies life at the cost of others and nature. Let us
plead the Lord to burn the conflicts and polarization, to overcome the logic of winners and
losers, only searching for the guilty, causing further exclusion.
The second point is an openness to new initiatives. The Lord himself started a new era, a new
tradition of peace, a healthy and responsible way of living. Isaiah proclaims: “Upon his
shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of
Peace… he comes to confirm and sustain by judgment and justice”. This new tradition respects
and promotes the rights of all. It protects life, accepts the fragility and vulnerability of
human beings. The Lord has taken the initiative to reconcile us with himself and motivate
and empower us to live in peace with others and take care of ourselves and others.
The Lord gives us his guidance through the scientists who are researching to guarantee a
healthier future. Our political leaders make the necessary decisions to facilitate our
living together. Our spiritual leaders inspire us not to lose hope. But there are also many
small and invisible services which contribute to our daily life. Now, in this holy night,
before the crib of the Son of God, let us open our hearts and eyes to see these many signs
of the new era. They are reflected in small and yet important things and the love and care
The third point is: We start with ourselves. The Lord gave up Himself to discover the cause
of troubles and combatted them to create a new tradition. In the second reading, Saint Paul
writes: “Jesus Christ gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness.” The Lord
takes the initiative to save us. Inspired and strengthened by Christmas's mystery, we are
also called to contribute to building the Kingdom of God. Our response to the initiative of
the Lord is to give and make ourselves available to be messengers of love and hope of the
Lord. Every one of us is essential.
The life and mission of the community depend on our participation. The renewal and transformation of
Society are only possible if each one of us collaborates. Now, in this holy night, before the Babe
of Bethlehem, let us renew our religious missionary commitment to be messengers of light and of hope
in the darkness of our time.
Collegio del Verbo Divino, Rome,
December 24, 2020