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Weekend Times

8 Gennaio 2010


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The much-awaited day, 25th December, finally came. The shopping euphoria preceding the birthday of Jesus Christ attested to the importance of the day.

Yes, Christmas Day, finally came after 365 days without it. This is the day Christians of all faiths across the globe celebrate the birth of their Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.

But a celebration without one's favourite food cannot qualify to be one. That is why people in the rural areas will always see to it that they buy food items that best define Christmas Day.

It is a moment when the rural folks have a luxury of tasting soft drinks; say Fanta or Coca Cola, after dancing with the bottled drink all day long only to partake the contents in the evening.

It is a time when even worst enemies do agree to shelve their differences, temporarily thougn, for the sake of this great moment. One would not necessarily be offended if they found sworn adversaries sharing a plate of rice with chicken..

December 25 is a rare moment when people have to celebrate by exchanging gifts, inviting each other to parties, among other pieasantries that go with Christmas day: But Peter and John, 13 and 12 respectively, did not have an idea yet on where they will spend their moment. They had no one to exchange a gift with. They are friends to no one, or so they thought.

They did not know whether Good Samaritans would consider inviting them for a party as they are no friends to people that matter in the society. Peter and John are both street kids in the commercial capital of Malawi, Blantyre. Scavenging has been the surest source of living to Peter and John since their parents died while they were five each.

"We rely on scavenging because begging has proved futile at times. People are becoming more and more stingier nowadays with their money," said Peter.

"As such, we don't expect anyone to invite us for a Christmas party. Our prayer is that people should have more than enough for themselves so we can benefit from their leftovers," added John with a smile while shying away from the reporter. The two believed that no one could invite them to a party because they don't have means of repaying the feast.

"Wrong!" Snapped Francisco Zuze, publicity secretary of the Community of Sant' Egidio.

"Actually, Peter and John should be assured that there is a party specifically organised for street kids, beggars and the elderly," said Zuze in an email interview. This is the reason why the Community wishes, on the very day Jesus was born, to gather as a big family where everybody can feel at home, he added.

It is the most beautiful image, which explains to the world eloquently the communal way of life.

The publicist further explained that their group is guided by Jesus' teachings on giving which come from Luke 14 verses 12 to 14.

"When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, test they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the aimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

"The Christmas lunch with the poor is a tradition of the Community of Sant' Egidio since when, in 1982, a small group of poor people was welcomed at the banquet table in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere," said Zuze.

He disclosed that 20 years have passed since that first Christmas lunch. From that moment on, the banquet table has widened year after year, and from Trastevere it has reached many parts of the world, wherever the Community is present.

Christmas iunches involved dozens of thousands of people in 52 different countries; homeless, people who live in institutions or in prison; all those poor helped by the Community during the year and many others who have joined for the feast.

Locally, the Christmas lunches took place in Blantyre, Mangochi, and Lilongwe just to mention a few.

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