In a few weeks’ time, the world will be celebrating Christmas. This year Christmas will be celebrated differently because of the impact the pandemic COVID-19 is causing. Christmas time is usually a time for parties, get-togethers, family reunions and so on. The true significance of Christmas is lost.

    Christmas is the coming of Christ. The coming of our Saviour, the creator of Heaven and Earth. Many forget the religious meaning and have rendered Christmas materialistic. For me, Christmas is all the year-round in the sense it is useless to ignore people then greet them for Christmas. That is hypocrisy.

    Christ was born in a manger surrounded by animals to keep him warm. The son of God was rejected. If nowadays this happens people would be scandalized as not even the basic human rights are observed. Alas, as we progress, we are be experiencing the surreal reality of what the Holy family went through over two thousand years ago. The reality is that people that are homeless or live in squalid conditions are on the increase. Poverty is on the increase as well as solitude.

    As I referred to above, Christmas is a time for social gatherings and family reunions. And yet there are people who live in solitude and are lonely. This is either because they have no family, or they are emarginated by society, or else they have a family but there is no relationship. Solitude is felt the most during Christmas time even though the reality is that solitude is something that people live all the year-round. Imagine a lonely person living in solitude and dying alone. What is worse than that? Recently we had a homeless person that died in a car. Society is indebted to him.

    My thoughts also go out to the poor. Yes, it is a reality, there are many people that live in poverty and do not have the necessities as well as food. For the past years, I have been proving foodbanks to these people. Poverty is not associated with an area or a particular social stratum it is widespread and can hit everyone. Christ chose to be born in poverty. The example He set is being ignored. People have become less altruistic and more self-centred. I am not one to judge as perhaps there is a lack of awareness that we are surrounded by these realities.

    Christ said, ‘do to others what you want to be done to you’. These are words that have a lot of significance even though they were said over two millennia ago. The economy and money are what dictate the way people act. Decisions taken, as we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, are based on the economic impact. Economy and money are essential but what about the human touch? What about social solidarity? Do people still care about others’ suffering? Are the vulnerable in society thought of? Are we catalysts to change society and better people lives? These are questions to be asked not only because Christmas is around the corner but something to be thought of all the year-round.

    Given that we will be celebrating Christmas differently it would be of great significance had we the time and chance to help the lonely, the poor, the homeless. Thoughts are important but actions are better, so it is time to act.

    Ivan Bartolo is a member of parliament for the Opposition bench