2014, brings with it a sense of hope and growing confidence, in terms of our recovering economy.Employment opportunity & growing exports, continue to be the “Green Shoots” of a new beginning, warmly welcomed  after such a harsh Winter recession. These days we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. This significant celebration traditionally marks the end of our Christmas season. I am sure that as the month of January continues to move, we have once again returned to the familiar and the routine.

The Epiphany tells the story of a group of people who were searching for meaning and purpose in life. They looked beyond conventional religion; in fact their search was fuelled by a puzzling star that shone brightly over an unknown village and an even more insignificant stable, in its surrounding countryside. This bright star revealed to them the beginnings of our Christian story, the birth place of the infant Jesus. This bright star announced a new time, an opportunity for new beginnings and an invitation for all people to be filled with new life, joy and peace. For this reason the message of the Epiphany is a lasting one, throughout the whole year. We are all invited to discover Christ in the familiar and routine place that is our daily lives. Those who discovered this wonderful moment of joy and peace knew that things would never be the same again. They were told in a dream, “Go home a different way”.

In the same way when we have a real moment of encounter, our lives are changed for the better. A tendency for us all is to retreat backwards and long for what we once had. This is true in so many ways, as our economy begins to recover, we may wish for a tiger economy that was never real, so many now painfully experience. This is a time of opportunity in our church. The bright star that illuminated uncertain pathways, points us in the direction of Hope and Opportunity. Pope Francis, by his humble actions, personifies the Christian message. His Leadership is renewing the Church. He challenges all people that “Actions speak louder than words”.

I was greatly heartened by the huge numbers of people who attended Mass this Christmas. Here in Portlaoise we celebrated the most wonderful Christmas Liturgies. Our Church packed to capacity with a strong sense of solidarity and hope in the message of Jesus, “We are all loved and cherished”. I was also greatly enthused by the fantastic response to St. Vincent de Paul’s Christmas appeal. This was a true witness of generosity and kindness. Gifts abundantly felt in all our communities.

These days already are getting that little bit longer, the new light is getting brighter and slowly dispelling the winter darkness. New Year, brings with it opportunity. As we face the challenges of our time, may we be confident that our God is with us. Perhaps a wonderful “New Year Resolution” might be to share “Good News” more    often. We all know that bad new travels very quickly. Be deliberate in telling the positive gestures of hope we all encounter everyday. May the New Year, 2014, be an occasion, not to be overwhelmed and burdened by the demands made of us. May we be generous especially to the quality of time we give to our families and those whom we love and care for.

May his light and peace allow us to know “All will be well”.