In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy and his message to all this Christmas.

 

I believe the greatest gifts around any Christmas tree are the lives of those who stand before it. In a time when much attention is placed on gifts and sharing seasons greetings, it an opportune moment to reflect on the why we are invited to celebrate this time of year. I am very aware that these days are difficult for many. Not just because of the consequences of unemployment, debt and impoverishment, but many other fragile wounds are also felt including the realities of addiction, mental illness, loneliness and bereavement. I believe that the greatest gift our lives and communities can be blessed with this Christmas is the gift of hope. In the shadows of uncertainty the human spirit longs to see the light. Hope is what the Christmas story is all about.

At a glace we can be blinded by the certain magical and indeed romantic overtones 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”. 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,

“A 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. Emmanuel is alive in the messiness of all our stories. The gift of Gods love has no limits. There are no cut-backs 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 would like to thank all who read my weekly column for your support and encouragement and the many letters and emails I receive throughout the year. My personal mantra in life is simply ‘all will be well’. Many of the vulnerable and fragile realities I reflect upon in my weekly column finds consolation through the light of hope and faith. I pray that the Birth of Christ once again will remind us ‘we are not alone, God is very near’.