Christmas message of the Provincial of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, Fr. Miljenko Šteko

date: 22.12.2021.

Fr. Miljenko Šteko, Provincial of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, congratulated Christmas and sent his message, which we convey in its entirety:

''The mystery of Christmas lies in those biblical descriptions of Jesus' birth. Matthew writes about the genealogy of Jesus, Mark talks more about John and his appearance, and only then about Jesus. Yet, just one little sentence from Luke shed light on the centuries: While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, for there was no room for them in the inn.”(Lk 2: 6-7) John in his magnificent Prologue immediately announces to all that the Word of God was incarnated, that it became a Man.  It came down to our lands.  It was equal to us in everything but sin - that He is the Light and that He wants to free us from our darkness.  (cf. Jn 1: 1-5)

The event of Christmas, as a gift of eternity in time, brought about the "fullness" that centuries had longed for. Christmas is coming and knocking on the door. It is knocking on our hearts, our souls, it is knocking on the door of our lives.

Is Christmas somehow quieter this year or does it just seem to us?!  Is everything tired in all our wrinkled worries, doubts and riddles?!  Is Christmas what it used to be for us?!

And if, likely, many will find him gloomy and tired, just because they feel that way, it is not good.  For, someone before us, in very difficult and worse times, struggled to love Christmas as a child who was just walking, who was just talking, who still does not understand anything. May Christmas overwhelm me as a child.

Today, the atmosphere of Christmas should be given to the new youngest generations.  Make them feel beautiful, to be happy because Christmas is coming. Let us not allow Christmas darken us, make us tired, insensitive, have no joy in us. Because, if we will not fight for new generations, when will we? What do we have left then?

Walking in that Christmas light, despite everything and everyone, let us strive to make Christmas take over our hearts. That this birth, that incarnation, should take place in our hearts.  Let us shine at Christmas. As we light Christmas candles in our family environments, in our monasteries, in parish houses, that we may approach in the spirit of the Newborn, that He may ennoble us. May Christmas once again be that vibration of delight that we can never forget from childhood and all that we managed to preserve from childhood. Colorful, glass balls that reflect the eyes of our mothers, tired, but so eager to warm our hearts with joy. A house that suddenly becomes home, in all its fullness of words, fragrant and warm, with green wheat, with the smell of snow and the cold that Christmas wood bricks bring with it. Let us also feel our father's calloused hands as he sets up the pine and begins to pray: "I believe in God the Father Almighty," echoes in our memories as the home is sprinkled with blessed water, while we are all together.

Merry Christmas and the Holy Nativity of Jesus! Blessed be the New Year 2022!''

Fr. Miljenko Šteko, the Provincial