The spirit of Christmas is with us. And all around the world people will be celebrating something that is very precious – giving. A season of goodwill to all people. But there are other things that matter at Christmas. Things that matter all year round: peace, joy and love. Also – compassion and understanding. Because when people look into their hearts, they see that the spirit of Christmas is something that is true always.
If we can give at Christmas to our loved ones, we can give to others at Christmas who need our love and help – the homeless, the needy and even people who are hungry and starving in the world. There are many ways in which we can easily give to those people, by not just walking past the homeless but actually stopping and giving – a little bit of our money, a brief conversation with them, and our hand on their shoulder as we wish them good luck in finding a home.
Farther away in the world, there are people who suffer far worse than the homeless. They are the starving and hungry people of the world. If they know about Christmas, they are not thinking about it. Because they have a pain that is difficult for us to imagine. The pain of hunger. And starvation. If we could all imagine the pain of starvation, then we would all want to do something about that pain. But we can imagine. All of us in the developed world, and many in the developing world, sometimes feel a temporary hunger until our next meal. But imagine that feeling of hunger very much stronger than that; that is the pain which the starving and hungry feel always, or almost always. If we felt that pain, we would want someone to do something about it to help us. If they were nearby and could help, they wouldn’t be able to say ‘I’m sorry, but I cannot help you.’ They would help us, because morally they would have to help us. You would expect that help from the nearby person, and soon. You would have a right to expect it. In reverse, they would have a right to expect the same from us and we would have a duty to help that nearby person.
All fine and well, I am sure you agree. They are nearby, and you would help them avoid the pain of hunger. A pain which probably we can all imagine who have not experienced it. But the people in the world who are experiencing the pain of hunger and starvation are not really far away at all. They are nearby. How are they nearby? They are nearby because we can give them our help. In a world which is increasingly both smaller and richer, there are many organised charities that we can support to feed the starving and hungry. Now that the spirit of Christmas is with us, the spirit of giving is with us too. So, why can’t we give beyond our families and friends to people who are both near and far away? The homeless are near so many of us in our cities and towns, but the ‘far away’ starving and hungry people are really not so far away at all. Our charity can reach them, our giving can reach them.
What is only a small part of our financial income for the comfortable and fed among us in the developing world is a great fortune to the hungry and starving in the world. A little of our money for them is a vast amount of wealth for them – a precious gift of wealth. That is, the precious gift of avoiding the pain of hunger. And still very, very much more – the precious continued gift of life. Because millions of people in the world die of starvation every year. They die of starvation in a world of plenty. And that is wrong. I’m sure you will all agree.
Therefore, why not this Christmas give additional presents? Not just to our loved ones, but also people in the world who need something that our loved ones already have. Since the spirit of Christmas is about love, let us extend that spirit of love around the world to our fellow human beings. Peace on Earth is a well-known expression at Christmas time. The peace on earth we can value at Christmas we can also value all-year round. Soon after Christmas comes the New Year. At that time, people all over the world are hoping and praying for a better future. A better world. And we can extend the spirit of Christmas and hope of the New Year into the future. And make the world a better place for all of us in the world.
When we give from our hearts, we affirm something in our hearts. We affirm our humanity. We affirm humanity for ourselves and the people we help. That gift of giving is something that we all have. Within us. So this Christmas I would like to say to all of you – please give to the suffering people of society and the world from your hearts. Let us all affirm our common shared humanity within us. And let us all reach out to the people of the world with a message of goodwill. And peace on earth to all people!
Peace on Earth!