Dear faithful friends,
There’s a song that we hear a lot at this time of year. The title is “We Need a Little Christmas.” This might reflect the way that many of us are feeling right now. Over the past year, our world has experienced a series of disasters. Some are weather-related. Some are humanitarian crises, such as the civil war in Syria, the tension in Ukraine, the terrorism in Nigeria, and the violence in Iraq. It is especially distressing when we hear of violence and terrorism close to home, as has happened several times over the past year. Hearing the stories, it is almost impossible not to be disheartened. This is why we do, indeed, “need a little Christmas.”
Christmas invites us to go to the stable. It invites to contemplate simple realities—simple and yet very profound. In coming among us as a baby in Bethlehem, our God tells us that we are loved. In Jesus, the Word became flesh, like us, and wished to dwell amongst us. Why? Because of love! Because of this, we can bring to the stable our own hearts, hearts that are often bleeding out of pain and disillusionment, and the hearts of victims whose lives were traumatised.
We can see how much of the human condition was embraced by the love of God when Christ was born amongst us. Mary and Joseph knew the need to protect themselves against vicious tongues, for Mary was pregnant, but not married. They knew anxiety, for they found themselves unprepared and without resources at the time of the birth of their child. They were, in fact, homeless when a home is needed, when a child is about to be brought into the world. Fear and oppression made them refugees shortly afterwards, and they were unable to return to their homeland for many years. Today, in a time of seeming prosperity, there are many—in fact, a growing number-- in Newfoundland who can identify with these aspects of the lives of the Holy Family.
Mary and Joseph also knew that most wondrous of human experiences, the joy and love that overwhelms us at the birth of a baby. Love transforms all, and the pride and joy of new parents is something that delights the hearts of all who know them. Mary and Joseph knew hope and wonder as they gazed on their baby. Who has not marvelled as we count the toes? The arrival of the shepherds reminds us of the vital importance of neighbours and friends, with their support and encouragement. The arrival of the Magi is a reminder to all of us to share our gifts in service of others. Love transforms all.
So, we can easily see that many aspects of our humanity are embraced by the Holy Family. In Bethlehem, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Today, wherever we live and love, the Word continues to take flesh and dwell among humanity. Jesus comes among us as the poor, the refugee, the stranger, the abused person, the prisoner, and the sick. And Jesus also takes the form of the neighbour bringing muffins, the pastoral care volunteer praying with a patient, the donor whose gift allows a prisoner to read a book for his child on CD, the respite worker who gives time and self to afford a family relief and space to rebuild strength.
We need a little Christmas. This Christmas, let’s give the gift of self to others. In so doing, we may discover how Christ continues to take flesh in our midst.
In Christ, the God who dwells among us,
Most Reverend Martin W. Currie
Archbishop of St. John’s
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Over the past several weeks I have had the privilege to preside at Masses at the various senior's homes and long-term care facilities in the city of St. John's. As well, I had the opportunity to visit Her Majesty's Penitentiary to gather and celebrate with the residents and staff there. I always treasure the times to visit these facilities. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers this Christmas and I wish you continued health, happiness, peace and joy during the Christmas season and in 2015. May the peace of Christ reign in your heart this Christmas and may your New Year know the blessings of the Lord.