Please see below the joint Christmas message from Bishop John McDowell, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, and Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator of Clogher:
When the great biblical scholar Monsignor Ronald Knox was only four
years old he was asked by one of his parents what he did when he
couldn’t sleep at night. He is said to have replied: “I lie awake and
think about the past” – an unusual answer for a child.
Over the past twelve months we on this island have been invited to
think a great deal about the past – or more precisely the past of 100
years ago – a time of revolution and war. It was a time of
unprecedented violence in Ireland and in the world and we have every
reason to be thankful that we now no longer resort to violence to settle
However it is not so very different today in other places. Although
there is no world war there are wars all over the world, and empires
continue to be built and to collapse in violence. It is not even all
that different from 2000 years ago when the child Jesus came into the
world in the stable of Bethlehem. Jesus was born into a violent world,
into an Empire founded on violence; and almost immediately that violence
threatened him, in the form of King Herod, the servant of the Roman
Empire. In the words of the Christmas carol: “So he gave the word to
slay, and slew the little childer…”
As then in Bethlehem, so now in Aleppo, Mosul, Cairo… the emperors of
the modern world use their servants and the little children are slain.
Sometimes, in the face of such darkness, we may wonder how the world
holds together at all. For Christians the answer lies with the child in
the manger, the Son sent by his Father to be a light that can never be
overcome by darkness and to bring into the world a depth of love so
great that it can never be overcome by any hatred or violence.
That light and love of the Son abides in the hearts of all of those
born by water and the Spirit. Knowing this, we can never lose hope. Nor
should we cease to support in prayer and in action all who are suffering
the consequences of the violence of this world. May the Christmas
season renew within us all the gifts of hope, charity and peace. May we
not lie awake thinking about the past, fearful about the present or
apprehensive about the future.
Instead may our hearts be touched by the peace of the child Jesus,
whose hand closes round Mary’s finger and with irresistible tenderness
pulls down her love on him.
May the tenderness of that love surround
you and yours this Christmas.
+John McDowell Monsignor Joseph McGuinness