I had a packed 10 days of work in Dhaka and I was scheduled to take a flight back to Colombo on the 24th morning to be with my family for Christmas Eve onwards. I was looking at options to do confession before Christmas mass. I did not want to leave it to the 24th evening, as there was only a little window from my time of arrival, to get home in the traffic that is likely to be heavy given that large crowds will be on the roads doing their last-minute Christmas shopping.
As I was looking at the Christmas schedule issued at the beautiful church I pray at in Banani – Dhaka, I found that confession was scheduled for 10 am on the 24th. My flight was a t 12.45 and it could take up to 1 hour to get to the airport. It was a risky option to do confession at 10 am and try to get to the airport on time given the unpredictable traffic in Dhaka. I called Father Tom, the Parish priest who kindly agreed to come early to do my confession. It was a peaceful confession and I felt cleansed and peaceful as I walked out of the church.
Finally at the airport I was standing in the line to get my passport stamped at emigration. I had an urge to go to the washroom and I was the next person in line to go to the immigration officer. At that moment a gentleman, who was with his wife and little child asked me if they could go before me as they had just 45 minutes for their flight. Since I still had another 90 mts I agreed to let them go before me. As the family who went to the emigration officer was finishing, an official of the airport escorted 5 persons and went past the line to the emigration officer.
Now this was quite amusing and as a part of me was about to protest at this unfairness, something within me told me to just let it be. So I waited patiently for them to finish, accepting that there must be a very good reason for all this. Amazingly my urge to go to the washroom had totally disappeared. The extra 30 mts I stood in the immigration line, eating into precious time I was hoping to spend in the departure lounge to clear some important emails, I realised what happened has a lot to do with Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ that was a few hours away.
I realized that my discomfort was so insignificant to the suffering of mother Mary who had to give birth to Jesus in a manger. I realized that my discomfort was so insignificant to the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. I realized that my discomfort was so insignificant to the suffering of the thousands in conflict areas, natural disasters and other natural and man-made calamities.
I wish and pray more and more people; especially those who can make a difference to stop the killings, feed the hungry and cure the sick are touched by the birth of Jesus Christ. Let them realize that Christmas is for giving and they could give up the stands they have taken, give to the poor and give of their compassion and be forgiving so that we can make this world we love and live a better place for all of us and future generations.
Let us extend this thought to beyond Christmas by believing that ‘life is for giving, that’s why we should be forgiving’.
I wish you a blessed, peaceful, giving and forgiving Christmas.