Note: each year, Father Alex Busuttil sends a Christmas message to supporters and friends. This year, we've decided to post his message on the Health Bridges blog. We hope you enjoy this message from such a remarkable man and partner of HBI.
The 25th of December is a special day the world over. A time of big celebration. Every country celebrates important historical dates like that of independence, end of wars’ anniversaries, celebrating national heroes, and so on; but there is nothing like Christmas. Perhaps business and materialism has taken over and made a huge economic and profit opportunity, but still the meaning of Christmas is unique.
Christmas is a milestone in the history of humanity. What we celebrate is God’s own intervention in the history of humanity by becoming one of us in human form. It is God himself who comes with a special mission. The mission of building His Kingdom on Earth, and all this starts on Christmas day. He becomes one of us in order to be able to communicate with us and show us the way to true fullness of life, in justice and peace; and that is where our question rises today. What are we truly celebrating in our Christmas celebrations? Do we really believe that Jesus is truly the God made man? Do we really care about His mission and message? It is wonderful to have the opportunity to get the family together, share nice food, exchange presents in a beautifully decorated environment, give plenty of hugs and kisses, reunions after long years of absence, and other wonderful things… but is Jesus present in our reunions? At times it happens that everyone is invited except Jesus. At times we do not even remember to say a little prayer on Christmas day or at least bless the food before we share it.
Once Jesus came, He came to stay. For those of us who believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we are nourished with Him in every Eucharistic celebration. For those of us who believe in His Word, we are inspired and given life through His message. For those of us who believe in good will, justice, peace and the power of love, we have in Him a light and a path to follow. This is the true sense of Christmas celebrations and it transcends all human diversity of whatever kind. Jesus’s message is for all of us who make the human kind. The main message of Jesus is that of love of God and love of neighbor. This is the key to the Kingdom of God on Earth here and now, a kingdom of justice, peace and love. With Christmas we celebrate this revealing way to love amongst humanity. In Jesus it is God himself who shows us the way. It is up to us humans to realize the wisdom of love, forgiveness, humility and compassion. Let us put Jesus back in our Christmas celebration and talk of the bounty of his self and message and not just limit our festivities to the so called “Holiday season."
Let us make sense of our hugs and kisses in an attitude of true welcoming, reception and forgiveness. Let us share our meals not just with family but also with those who lack it. Let us be generous in our giving not just with the exchange of gifts at Christmas time but let us be always there to give a helping hand to those in need. Christmas time is a remembrance of how different life can be if we act out of love, peace and good will. Let us remember that the people we greet on Christmas day are the same people all year round. Let us make Christmas the model of God’s Kingdom on Earth. Let the meeting with Jesus here on Earth be the prelude of our definite meeting with Jesus in the life to come. A life where we do not need anything because we’ll be one with God. Let us understand that all we have will be left behind. Let us understand that the more we have, the less others have. Let us open our hearts and welcome in them those in need… in need of a hug, a kind word, forgiveness, healing of body and soul, a piece of bread, a roof, a job… and all that means lots and lots of LOVE. Let us all with Mary repeat the words “Let your will be done”, with Saint Francis, “Lord make me an instrument of your Peace” and with our Missionary Society of Saint Paul founder Mons. Joseph Depiro, “Look always through the eyes of Jesus”.
United in one mission of building Peace on Earth through Faith and Service, may the blessings of Christmas fill your heart and all your loved ones with Peace of heart and the happiness not just on Christmas day but all the way through life, Amen.
One life, one legacy – Love.
Fr. Alex – email@example.com
I have always been fascinated with the notion of going beyond the expected. The assumed. I have felt a calling to seek the highest level of achievement in most of my life pursuits. And, I learned all too well (as a result of many trials and errors) - the best way to achieve the outcomes of my dreams was to prepare. Fastidiously prepare. To help me do this, I have sought role models and guides. I used the guidance of others to help craft my preparation. I've relied on this "guidance by mentorship" model my whole life.
One guide I have recently enlisted is a person I have never met. In fact, I can't say I know too much about him outside of his enormous accomplishments in free solo rock climbing. Free solo climbing, for those not aware, is rock climbing without ropes or safety devices. There are no harnesses. No fixed ropes. Just the climber and the rock. The worlds single greatest free solo climber is Alex Honnold. He is the epitome of movement as an expression of art and creativity.
Honnold's greatest accomplishment, and the climb that put him in the record books, was an unassisted climb of the Dawn Wall on Yosemite's El Capitan. It is a remarkable feat that is nearly impossible to describe. (I suggest you check out the trailer to the feature length film about his record climb.)
From a purely outside perspective, Honnold appears a bit reckless, almost daredevil. He is, in reality, quite the opposite. For Honnold is a consummate planner who considers every aspects of his climbs. To prepare for the Dawn Wall, he reconnoiter the climb for years. Practicing handholds, routes, and timing . . . over and over again, until he found the edge of his learning. And, it was at this edge - that he found what was truly possible.
I feel this same way about the work of global health. It is critical that all the work involve planning and preparation. We need to be mindful to the many aspects of our work and the impacts of our efforts. From culture to social dynamics, we must prepare before we implement. However, at some point - you reach an edge. A time when the preparation stops and the implementation begins. And, it's this edge - when planning and preparation meet timing and understanding - that true change happens. This is the edge I am forever seeking . . . in my own life and the work of Health Bridges.
We have long realized the most effective mechanism we have in our portfolio of activities to truly change the lives of the people we are called to serve, is training the health services providers who care for their needs.
Training is a big part of our work. We train midwives in life saving resuscitation, firefighters in pre-hospital emergency life support, and healthcare professionals in evidence-based, person-centered practices.
This past week we were fortunate to have Dr. Jessica Hitchcock join our team to provide trainings to child service providers at a number of different orphanages and homes in a truly remarkable methodology. The methodology is called The Circle of Security, and it helps parents and care providers build healthy attachments with children, youth and young adults.
Over the past week, Dr. Jessica trained the staff of a government run orphanage, care providers at One for Others Hope House, the Ines Project Health Ambassadors and team, and the staff of the Ica Casa Girasoles. Watching Dr. Jessica interact with the staff and help to open their eyes to a new way of approaching some of the biggest challenges in working with children was remarkable. She is a master trainer and a gifted intellect. But more than her skills as a infant, child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist - Dr. Jessica is a kind, compassionate, humble person . . . and this approach is so powerfully healing.
So, this past week we trained staff at a number of child welfare programs. We hope the trainings have provided the staff with new insights and a set of actionable skills. But, more than anything else - I know they have been genuinely impacted because of the amazing approach of Dr. Jessica. True healing happens in relationships - and she built relationship with everyone she met.
Thank you Jessica.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.