Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Message - Bishop Seamus Freeman, SAC

Christmas Message 2008

In his "personal search for the face of the Lord" Pope Benedict XVI writes: "Religions do not aim merely to answer the question about our provenance; all religions try in one way or another to lift the veil of the future. They seem important precisely because they impart knowledge about what is to come, and so show the path he has to take to avoid coming to grief' (Jesus of Nazareth; 2007, p. 2). The prophet, for many, is one who sees the future. It would be more true to say that the prophet has a very honest intuition into the present, and he/she sees the dangers of not heeding the clear warnings of every present moment.

Who are the prophets of today? Everybody is called to participate in the service of prophecy - not as seeing the future, of having the wisdom to know the consequences of behaviour. All Christians are baptised into the prophecy of Jesus Christ. A small baby knows very little about the meaning of this moment. However, the parents, sponsors and parish community pledge to raise the baptised to the point where they too will have an understanding of prophecy and an understanding of the inner power of the truth of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If all this were to work as it is meant to in catechesis, people would have rich insights into the consequences of many of the behaviour patterns of today. If our young people are raised, without any knowledge of the catastrophic health consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, they run great risks of having very sad lives. Are we to blame these young people? No indeed! We must blame ourselves, those with the responsibility of guaranteeing that young people get the proper guidance in their initial years.

We are on the verge of the Christmas season. It will not be a happy time for everyone. That is certain. The people, mostly children, suffering of cholera in Zimbabwe, will not have a happy Christmas. The victims of violence and terrorism will not have a happy Christmas. All those threatened with loss of job, or house, or car, or all of these, will probably not have a happy Christmas. Those people who are isolated by age, illness, depression, will not have a great Christmas; that is, unless there is someone who can represent the infinite love of God to these people. There are two great classes of people in the world ... those who only think of themselves, and those who like Jesus give their lives as a gift of care for others. In this latter, the happiness of Christmas resides. Jesus proclaimed that: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends". Something of such love must be at the heart of all our days and actions.

This will all not happen in a day, or two. But we can begin, and if we do, we will find that life is not all it seems to be. It is far more than all it seems to be. Let us begin this way. If each one of us, this Christmas, could bring just a little relief to the worry, the illness, the confusion of another, then we would be well on the way of celebrating a very happy Christmas.

Notwithstanding all the difficulties for people this Christmas, I do take the opportunity of wishing all of you a very happy and holy Christmas. I also pray that all of us, together, will grow in the hope of a better New Year of 2009. The collaboration of all people of good will can give us the miracles of true happiness and meaning in life. "Discouraged, never! One has to go ahead, everyone in his/her place, seriously and faithfully. Then, hopefully, when one least expects it, a passage will open through which history will make a quality step forward" (Max Thurian). +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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Sotto Voce

(Source: DO)

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