Christmas Mass, Christ the King Chapel in Bagdad

on 17 Jan, 2024
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Bagdad (Iraq), 12/23/2023, Sr. María de los Ángeles Flores Pérez.- The doors of the church open in Karrada as a place to welcome those who arrive, be they Christians or Muslims. Karrada, where the community lives, is a neighborhood that throughout the 20th century was primarily a Christian neighborhood in Baghdad. In the present century, it has been rapidly inhabited by Muslims.

When December approaches, Christian homes decorate their houses as well as churches and Christian institutions (hospitals, schools, business). Everywhere the crib takes a central place. It is surprising to see Muslim institutions decorate with color and lights too.

St. Raphael's Hospital, where Christians and Muslims work side by side, scheduled a Mass of Thanksgiving for December 23. Sr. Maryanne Pierre has let everyone know on time through a thoughtful letter of invitation that she sent to all the staff. Everyone prepared with enthusiasm, even the Muslim colleagues were happy to participate in this ceremony; the Christians were very joyful and conscious of being able to show a little of the goodness and beauty of their faith. The sisters take care of every detail: liturgy, hymns, decoration, welcome, etc. The staff has the experience for a long time, but they want to take advantage of every occasion to witness to their faith in Jesus Christ. Father Amir, a Dominican priest, presiding over the Mass, celebrated with joy and depth, the Mystery of Christmas, the words of the homily carefully chosen, so as not to mark the differences with Islam, but to announce the love of God who became flesh to redeem us. The presence of the Virgin Mary is very important; Christians love and venerate her in every way; Muslims respond, consciously or unconsciously, Most Holy Mary attracts them.

The joy of God who became a Child is visible in the agape after the Eucharist. In the multi-purpose hall, they share snacks and, with surprise, together with the Christmas greetings, they receive a very thoughtful gift. Everyone's heart is filled with a simple, profound joy because "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14).