There is something about a baby that captures all our attention. It’s magnetic. Even the most stubborn heart softens in the presence of a new born baby. I saw it recently on a visit to bless a school extension, in the staff room later when their colleague on maternity leave, called in with her new bundle of joy, everyone just wanted to see the baby. The adult in us becomes the child again, cooing and making all sorts of funny faces! Babies make people smile and that’s such a good thing.
Christmas is about smiling, it takes much less face muscles to smile than it does to frown. We adults complicate matters. In the words of Pope Francis “Jesus is God’s smile … when we look down at the nativity scene; when we look at Baby Jesus, we can feel God smiling at us”. It all began in Bethlehem, in the simplicity of a stable. This is the essence of what we celebrate at Christmas. God becoming a baby. God stooping down to be like one of us.
We are all conscious of the turmoil in the world at present. War in Ukraine and absolute terror in Gaza and Israel, the Holy Land, the place of that Bethlehem stable. Sadly too many babies and children are caught up in conflicts.
My prayer and hope to all is that you will feel God smile on you this Christmas. Also that you might smile, as you thank God for those around you, family, friends and colleagues.
And next time you see a new born baby, remember that as you smile, God is smiling on you. We need to realise this, this year more than ever, in our war-weary and broken world. Into it a fragile baby is born, a baby whose smile has the capacity to soften the hardest of adult hearts.
Every blessing for Christmas and 2024,
Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin