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Christmas a living reality for all times - Letter of Prior General

My Dear Brothers,Co-workers and Friends,

I wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas, especially in this year in which violence, war and terrorism have continued to flay our world so vehemently, leaving in their wake many refugees, many others who have left in the quest of a new land in which to live, and so much loss of life, further debasing human society and the dignity of all human beings.

 Despite the gloom and the disheartenment we may see around us, Christmas lifts us back up onto the path of hope, because as the second Reading tells us in the Midnight Mass ?The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people? (Tt 2,11). God?'s love and mercy are more powerful and awesome than sin and evil can ever be. The Child of Christmas in whom God became flesh is the One whoreveals it to us, and makes it present in our lives, and is the sign who invites us to welcome in the arrival of our salvation and to commit ourselves to it, so that it can reach through to the whole of humankind.

 With the opening ofthe Holy Door, Pope Francis inaugurated the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in Rome on December 8, under the motto ?Merciful like the Father?.  In the Bull of Indiction of the Holy Year, the Pope tells us that Mercy is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. It is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy:the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness... When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy (nos. 2 and 3).

 The Holy Father prays that the balm of mercy may reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst. As SaintThomas Aquinas said, ?It is proper to God to exercise mercy, and he manifests his omnipotence particularly in this way? - words which show that God?s mercy, rather than a sign of weakness, is the mark of his omnipotence (n. 6).

 Pope Francis went on to say, the practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice.  May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God?'s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful to thers as the Father has been with us.


Mercy is the veryfoundation of the Church?s life? The Church?s very credibility is seen in howshe shows merciful and compassionate love (10). It is my burning desire, saysPope Francis, that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect onthe corporal and spiritual works ofmercy. During this Jubilee, the Church will be called even more to healthese wounds, to assuage them with the oil of consolation, to bind them withmercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care. (no. 15).


It is throughChristmas that God?s love, mercy and commitment to humanity is expressed bybecoming man in Jesus, whose words, deeds and life revealed God?s mercy, and isthe merciful face of the Father (no. 1). St John of God?s hospitality is aspecial reflection of God?s mercy, which all the members of the HospitallerFamily of St John of God are called to show to all men and women. Showing mercyand hospitality to our neighbour, especially the sick, the poor and those whoare suffering any kind of exclusion or vulnerability is to make the mystery ofthe Incarnation, that is to say the mystery of Christmas, a living reality atall times.


I urge you all toexperience the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as an opportunity to convert our less-than-mercifulconduct and to grow in our commitment to hospitality towards those whom we livewith, and care for, every day. I urge you all, and myself first of all, tobecome reconciled with God, with our neighbours, and with the world, seekingforgiveness and accepting the forgiveness of others. I also urge you to keepthis Holy Year present in our reflections and in the formation programmes inour Communities, Centres and in the Provinces of the Order.


I send you all,Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers, Benefactors and Friends of the Order, and allthe sick and our guests in our Centres, and all your loved ones, my very bestwishes for Christmas. And to all the Brothers and Co-workers who will beserving by the bedside of the sick and with the guests in our Centres,especially on Christmas Day, I offer my heartfelt gratitude and thanks, for onChristmas Day, as every day, you will be the living reflection of Christmas,the presence of God?s grace among us.


Speaking on behalf ofthe whole Hospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia, Brothersand Co-workers, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year2016, a year run through with mercy and hospitality!



Brother Jesús Etayo

Superior General



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