In this week’s blog Fr Paddy tells us that Jesus Christ is not something that just once happened but a promise that needs to be realised in all our lives.

Poinsettia

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

This column appeared in the edition published 16th December 2009

A charming story is told of Poinsettia, a poor Mexican girl, who had no gift to present to the baby Jesus in his crib, as was customary on Christmas Eve. As Poinsettia walked slowly to the chapel with her friends and family her heart was full of sadness rather than joy. An angel appeared to the little girl and spoke to her

“I am sure that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in his eyes”.

Not knowing what to do, the little girl knelt at the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet.Looking at these insignificant weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. Poinsettia fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel. As she approached the crib she remembered the angel’s words. She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the feet of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant crimson red, all who saw them were certain that they had seen a miracle right before their eyes. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Buena, Flower of the Holy Night. Known by all of us for its Christmas colour, called the Poinsettia.

This is a powerful story of Christian hope in a time of darkness and uncertainty. Our Church has been overwhelmed by the sickening destructive weeds of abuse that has destroyed innocent victims lives. A weed of great dysfunction within the hierarchy that failed to deal with this issue resulting in cover up and silence. Our recent budget has marginalized those most vulnerable, widows, the blind and the unemployed to a place of greater poverty and destitution. So many in all our communities have been greatly affected by flooding and live with a continued fear that the recent devastation, will return to cause even more damage. From Bankers to Bishops, Budgets and recession, climate change and flooding this year, 2009, may well be looked back as the “Annus Horribilis”.

And yet even where one can be overwhelmed and indeed choked by the overgrowing destructive weeds regarding so many structures in our society, the Poinsettia offers us hope. This is a time of cleansing, a time for renewal, a time for change. Jesus born in great poverty to a family placed on the margins is our source of new life, renewal, hope and confidence. Jesus feels no doubt the immense pain and suffering that is felt in the hearts of so many good people at this time. He dwells in our hearts that may be disillusioned.

The gift of Christmas is to indulge in a bright light that is so much brighter than any darkness. There is no recession when it comes to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. There are no cutbacks in the unconditional love Jesus has for us all. The new life of Jesus Christ is not something that just once happened but a promise that needs to be realised in all our lives. This is the time. It is the weeds of hurt and brokenness, disillusionment and anger that we place at the foot of our Savior this Christmas. His Presence will transform and allow us to begin again.