Christmas greetings to you wherever you are today.
Every family has
their own particular way of marking Christmas, their own traditions and
rituals which are often handed down from parents or grandparents. Still,
we are all united in remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ
Christmas, we often say, is a family time. Scattered families come back
home to be together for the feast. Christmas reminds us that families
are important for our own wellbeing and for the society we live in.
nourish us, support us and give us a sense of belonging. The family is
also the primary cell of the Church, the place where faith is nourished
and grows in us. For that reason it is sometimes called the domestic
We look forward to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018 and
we hope that Pope Francis will be able to be with us for it. This event
takes place every 3 years and its aim is to promote, strengthen and
celebrate family life. I commend to you all the Prayer to the Holy
Family, which we have begun distributing at the Christmas Masses.
ask you to make it part of your family prayers over the next couple of
years as we prepare for this important event in the life of the Church
in our country.
Because families are important, homes are very important too. Without a
home it is very hard to have a family life.
In a recent interview, Fr
Peter McVerry spoke about how homeless people dread Christmas, because
they have nowhere to go, no family home in which to celebrate, perhaps
no family to celebrate with. Christmas makes them feel more lonely and
isolated than ever.
Jesus began his life on this earth homeless and poor. Joseph and Mary
surely felt isolated when they could find no room at the inn in
When Christ was born he identified with the 2,400 Irish
children who are homeless at present, and with the tens of thousands who
are living in poverty.
He identified with the thousands fleeing war in
the Middle East, poverty in Africa and persecution in Pakistan and
For Christians, thinking about these people as we celebrate Christmas is
bound to make us feel a bit uneasy – that amid so much poverty and need
we enjoy such plenty. It’s a healthy unease and a holy unease.
Christmas challenges us to open our hearts in compassion to those who
are in need, who are homeless, or who are refugees. It reminds of
Christ’s word: “Whatever you did to one of the least of these, you did
I wish you all, wherever you are a happy and peace-filled Christmas.