Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle called on the faithful to make every day count and not to put off doing good things.
The Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said life is short and the best thing to do is live it.
“Let us not postpone the good things that we could do now… because you might not have another chance to do it,” Cardinal Tagle said in a Vatican News report where he recalled his experience of being infected with COVID-19 when he went home to Manila.
He said that even “little acts: a simple act of kindness, a little act of justice, a simple phone call, a smile, a remembrance” can make a big difference.
The cardinal went on to assure those suffering from COVID-19 “that they have a brother in me… someone who knows the internal turmoil, the anguish, the fear.”
“I would like to tell them, and all those who will be listening, that we could be surprised by something like this: you don’t expect it,” said Cardinal Tagle.
“So as the Gospel says: you do not know when it is coming, when the Lord will come, so be prepared,” he said.
The cardinal also said that the ongoing pandemic might actually help people focus on the message and hope for Christmas.
He said the story of the Nativity says that Jesus was born in a time and situation that “was not ideal.”
He said the lesson is that Christmas is not about wealth or possessions, and should remind people to become less consumed by worldly trappings.
“Other things that are with us will disappear: the investments, the achievements, the gifts, our money… will all disappear,” Cardinal Tagle said.
“But Jesus who comes as one of us, God with us, will remain with us forever. So that is our hope,” he said, adding that “It is God who comes to us. We will never be alone.”
The cardinal, who is also president of Caritas Internationalis, said Christmas during the pandemic is calling for solidarity.
“I hope we will be creative, that we will be able to find ways, especially in reminding our brothers and sisters that they have a friend that they can count on,” he said.