In this week’s blog Fr Paddy tells us that in a time when so much uncertainty and hopelessness prevails in our lives we must learn from the example of our Saviours birth.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 22nd December 2009

Christmas brings with it a multitude of emotions to all our hearts. Our young children greet this time of year with great innocence and awe. Open to the magic of twinkling stars and reindeers bringing Santas gifts. Christmas is a time of being together, reconnecting with family and friends, a time of rest, in this the darkest and coldest moments of the year. Christmas with its focus on family often exaggerates and reopens the wounds and scars that accompany so many of us in our adult lives. Christmas for so many is a challenging time. The loss of a loved one never leaves us, their absence from table and conversation makes Christmas a sad and indeed a lonely time of year for so many. The reality of marital breakdown and broken relationships is also felt greatly during this Christmas week. Issues such as addiction, unemployment, debt, depression and sickness are just some of the real burdens that are felt in the hearts, of what makes us all a fragile and wounded people.

At a glance we can be blinded by the certain magical and indeed romantic tones that even surround the nativity of Jesus Christ. The chorus of angels singing Glory to God to the shepherds that first Christmas night may lull us into false perspective when we reflect on the nativity. There was nothing too romantic or comfortable when it came to the birth of Jesus. This fragile and most humble birth is now the very hope that we can begin to celebrate. Jesus was born into total poverty, marginalization and vulnerability. Our God embraced a radical alternative There was no room for him in the Inn. In a time when so much uncertainty and hopelessness prevails in our lives, from unemployment and cutbacks, to scandal and great hurt in our Church, we must learn from the example of our Saviours birth.

Actions speak louder than words. By his humble birth Jesus points us to the purpose of his life. The first to hear the Good News of his birth were also poor and isolated people, the Shepherds. This is a time when so many in all our communities are hungry for a little bit of hope. We are, for so many reasons, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, The people who walk in darkness. There is a great opportunity, in our hunger and thirst for something new. We are all invited to receive a wonderful gift, from Jesus Christ this Christmas.

It is with great hope that I prepare to celebrate Christmas. I find my heart is lifted by the new shoots of the coming springtime that are erupting from the winter soil, in my garden. Even in this time of great burden, particularly when the Church I serve is so bruised by scandal and crisis the humble coming of Jesus among us offers a new opportunity. Emmanuel is alive in the messiness of all our stories. The gift of Gods love has no limits. There are no cutbacks when it comes to the radical healing that Jesus offers us all this Christmas. May we sense his new life from the goodness and great kindness we may experience from so many. Similarly may we give birth to Jesus by the compassion and gentle friendship and hospitality we may share with those we love most this time of year. I will pray when I celebrate mass on Christmas Eve, for all who read my weekly column that the Good Lord will bless you with health, peace and great hope, now and always.