In the northern hemisphere, Christmas comes in an extraordinary time of the year. In our most vulnerable and darkest days, we are invited to indulge in a light that is brighter than any darkness, in a hope that is greater than any fear, in a bigger picture, that reminds us “God so loved the world, that he simply and majestically, became one of us”.
The infant child, depicted in the crib, often has his arms outstretched, reaching out with empathy and deep love, into the depths of our humanity. The Christ-child’s presence is warm, intimate and full of affection. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season. Yes, we all know we live in very challenging times, the list of burdens can be endless, but this time of year it’s also important to prioritise and hold a sense of gratitude, for the gifts perhaps we can’t purchase, but deeply value. Our family, our friendships, our health, our hopes and our joys. I think of so many this Christmas who would love to be healthy, to be reunited with a loved one whom has departed.
Often in life it’s not till what we take for granted is threatened, we discover what ultimately is important. This is the gift of Christmas. Spending time with loved ones, nourishing the meaning and purpose of life, finding hope and consolation in the bright star that says even in the depth of winter, soon the green shoots of spring will once again awaken hope and new beginning.
In a Christmas message, the late Queen Elizabeth stated: At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important. Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them …
With all that’s changing, we need to focus on important values that we would never want to lose. Our Christian faith calls us to be a welcoming people and to reach out to the vulnerable. This faith challenges us to be fair and just in our sharing of the world’s resources. The frailty of our planet also cries out for shared action to hand on our “common home” to future generations. Each time of crisis provides an opportunity which must be seized. These challenging times, bring us to the heart of the Gospel message: what we agree to do as a community is more authentic and lasting than our individual concerns. This is a time for unity and for shared concern for one another.
We need a radical new way of relating and living that brings harmony and sustainability to all of life. We humans are part of the interconnected cosmic web of creation, and we need to live a new paradigm of communion with all that is. Long ago, Francis of Assisi grasped this fundamental reality. He intuitively understood the importance of living not as a self-centred individual but as part of the larger whole. He championed the art of living in deep harmony and communion. Inspired by his namesake, Pope Francis says the awareness of God incarnate in the world that can “motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world” and an “ecological conversion”. We must learn that ‘less is more’. We must learn to envision a new economy that shifts away from consumption and exploitation to one that celebrates radical interdependence and reciprocity within diverse webs of life. Only by taking less from the earth can we move to an alternative model of living in radical harmony and deep connection with the planet.
The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation, we cannot heal the world. Let us follow the footsteps of Jesus as we listen and respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
At Christmas, we pray that through Christ, we will all be united in shared goals: to look out for and care for one another more; to reach out to those who have less; to support those who grieve or carry heavy burdens, and to be eternally grateful for the many blessings we have, today and always. May the Lord of light shine on you and on your loved ones this Christmas and in the New Year. I pray, as we prepare to celebrate the Christmas season, you will be filled with peace, joy and hope.
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