As we approach the end of 2023, we feel uncertain about where the world is heading. With rising tension in conflict areas on the fringe of the European Community, the impact of war becomes part of our daily lives. The news is dominated by fear. We see many desperate innocent civilians fleeing from their homes and losing everything they love.

During this year’s Christmas season the names of cities like Bethlehem and Nazareth have a totally different ring to them. With the continuation of violence in and around the Holy Land and all the trauma that will live on for generations to come, the need for reflection and rediscovery of a sustainable path towards justice and peace is most urgent.

Together with a resetting of a moral and ethical approach to life, the appeal for solidarity and charity to help the victims dominate this grey season of the year.

At the R.C. Church of Our Saviour, we gather not only to pray for peace but to also organize a variety of initiatives to assist refugees as well as traumatized and homeless people.

Twice a week, refugees from several continents gather for language classes and mutual support. Once a month there is a Soul Kitchen dinner. Sinterklaas will visit the deprived children with gifts in December. Once a week, a team of volunteers goes to prepare food for the homeless in Rotterdam, and every fortnight a dinner is served for the homeless in The Hague. Our Advent Giving Tree Campaign will benefit people who live in shelters as well as refugees or poor people who need extra support with their studies or daily needs. 

Despite Western society becoming more individualistic and polarized, our parish still gathers about 1000 people every Sunday, and more during the week. Any initiative that brings people together for the common good is a blessing and an inspiration. The end of the year is also the season of “Joy to the World” festivities and charity.

This year, we may be more conscious of the need for creating inclusive opportunities for socializing with each other. Living in a part of the world that has peace and quality of life, can’t be taken for granted. It is a precious vulnerable gift that requires maintenance, gratitude, and prayer to continue the good work that God has started in each and every one of us and to bring it to completion. 

I wish you a very good end to 2023 and thank all the people who do make this world a better place for their generosity and for not giving up hope for a better future.