“The shepherds found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger” (Lk 2: 16).
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a Child who would bring hope
and joy to a world sunk in darkness and despair. Joy would come to us
because the Child was the very Son of God who came in our human flesh
and spoke to us of God’s saving love. Hope would rise in our hearts
because He gave us the invitation and the possibility of sharing in
God’s own life and happiness. At our own risk and to our own
disadvantage we reject or neglect the message from heaven brought to us
by this Child.
At this season we wish each other a happy Christmas. This greeting
is often on our lips and on the Christmas cards we send to our friends.
It is good to do this but we should make sure that these words do not
lose their profoundly religious value and meaning. Our Christmas cards
should portray something of the real meaning of this Feast and of the
Birth of Christ, our Saviour, without which there would be no Christmas.
A snowman and bells and holly twigs alone do not express the mystery we
celebrate. Let us live Christmas in it truest sense, as a commemoration
of God’s visible entry into our world, in the Person of his Beloved
Son, born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem. This is something that is
sacred and Christian. It is not folklore or mere popular custom.
The sense of hope brought to us by the mystery of Christmas is
very necessary at the present time. Budget after budget has made many
families struggle to survive. Unemployment and emigration, debt and
impoverishment, have become a harsh reality during the past year for
many people. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is extending its
charitable services to more and more families. Many are responding
generously to its requests and to those of other Charities. This too is
an essential part of the sacred season we are preparing.
The Child born at Bethlehem is certainly a very special Child. But
the birth of every child is special. Every child in the womb is unique.
He or she is God’s own creation. The Church has never taught that the
life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother. By
virtue of their common humanity, the lives of both a mother and her
unborn baby are sacred. If our concern for human rights is to mean
anything, it must include concern for the most basic right of all – the
right not to be killed. We ask our public representatives and
politicians not to have the burden on their conscience of having
legislated for abortion, but to have the courage of their convictions
and uphold the uniqueness and sacredness of every human life from the
first moment of conception to natural death. Abortion is gravely immoral
in all circumstances, no matter how ‘limited’ the access to abortion
As we celebrate the birth of Life and Truth at Christmas, let us
respect life and walk in the truth. Let us with Saint Augustine ‘cast
ourselves down from our pretentious selves and bow down in adoration
before this fragile divine life who built himself a humble dwelling from
our clay, so that he might raise and lift us up’ (cf. Confessions, VII, 18. 24). May this Christmas bring hope and peace to your hearts and homes, and joy to your children.
Nollaig mhaith daoibh go léir.
+ Philip Boyce, O.C.D.