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Reflecting on the prophet Isaiah’s words, I cannot help but think of the significance of mountains to Jesus, whose birth we will soon celebrate. Jesus often went up to the mountains to pray in solitude. He taught on the mountains; he preached about how faith, however small, can move mountains. There were other significant moments in Jesus’ life up in the mountains, including his death and ascension into heaven.
Isaiah paints a striking image of Jesus walking on the mountains to deliver a message of peace. How wonderful to hear these words of hope and deliverance on the day of Christ’s birth, and even more so as our world continues to suffer from drawn-out wars and conflicts — not only in Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, but also less known ones such as the conflict in Sudan — as well as threats of war elsewhere.
The Scripture passage made me think of our fragile Earth, which this year recorded the hottest month and hottest day in about 120,000 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization. We are now in the era of “global boiling,” warn scientists. I think about our Jesuit partners who help address the impact of climate change, especially on vulnerable populations in the Global South.
The imagery of mountains took me back to the India and Nepal trip that I undertook in spring with my colleague, Juan Emilio Hernandez, CJI International Programs Coordinator, to visit our dedicated Jesuit partners. On our way to visit CJI-supported projects, we marveled at God’s creation when we got a glimpse of the majestic Everest in Nepal.
Isaiah’s words gain greater resonance as I reflect on the meaning of Christmas in today’s world. In addition to conflicts across the globe, we are grappling with rising inflation, food insecurity, violation of human rights, historic levels of global human displacement and humanitarian need, all of which are amplified by the lingering global pandemic. With Covid-19 erasing more than four years of hard-won gains in eradicating poverty, the UN estimates that 574 million people will continue to live in poverty by 2030. Poverty deprives people of their human rights, including the right to education, with women and girls bearing a disproportionate burden of its impacts.
Addressing these global challenges requires us to move mountains — together. The message of peace that Jesus brings is a challenge for us to deepen our faith and put it into action.
With an abiding faith in God and support from generous Canadians like you, our Jesuit partners are scaling mountains of challenges and bringing a message of hope.
In Zambia, small-scale farmers learn organic farming practices that protect the land and improve their livelihood at the Jesuit-run Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre. Br Paul Desmarais SJ, who introduced organic farming at Kasisi where he served for decades, and who died this year, often expressed his belief that, “our faith is intimately linked to justice; social justice has to include justice for the environment.”
The Jesuit Migration Network offers solidarity and support for thousands of people fleeing armed conflict, persecution, hunger, and political crises in Central America, and other parts of the world. Many migrants pass through the Darien Gap, a stretch of treacherous mountains and jungles between Colombia and Panama, where they are at the mercy of criminal gangs and other dangers.
Thousands of poor and marginalized people in Matigara, India, continue to receive free medical treatment, especially for leprosy and tuberculosis, at Jesu Ashram, the health care facility of the Jesuits of Darjeeling. The program also makes transformative change possible via a three-year course on nursing for women from poor families.
Addressing South Sudan’s high illiteracy rate (more than 70%) is a Sisyphean task, but the Jesuits of Eastern Africa Province believe that even small steps can push the needle. It has established the Mazzolari Teachers Training College to equip instructors with more skills so they can teach better.
This Christmas, we thank you for helping us and our partners move mountains with your unwavering support.
We wish you a blessed Christmas.
Donate now to the 2023 CJI Christmas Appeal
“And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
– Mark 13:37
“We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”
– 2 Peter 3:13
“He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.”
– John 1:7
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
– Luke 1:37