As Bishops of Cork, we join in wishing you all a peaceful Christmas. We pray that God will bless you, not only during this Christmas festival, but also throughout 2017.
This year, 2016, has been a year of centenary commemoration for our country as well as of wider world events one hundred years ago. Landmark remembrances such as these are opportunities for reflection. We recall the years since, and we ask ourselves what have we become, and what are we becoming? Even more challenging is the question, how do we work together today, and what is to guide us, as we try to shape our tomorrow?
In a similar way, Christmas gives all Christians an opportunity, not only to celebrate and to enjoy the festivities, but also to pause for thought. What was the significance of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, and how does it affect us and transform us in our lives, in our relationships, and in our engagement with the world around us today?
We live in a society that faces many challenges that call for our resolve, partnership and commitment, including, for example, poverty, homelessness, housing, mental health issues, and enduring economic concerns. On a broader stage, BREXIT, political stability within Europe, migration, human catastrophe, and wars, especially in the Middle East, weigh on many minds during the current time.
It is against this background that we celebrate Christmas this year. We hear again the Christmas message of light and hope. The message of the angels announcing the good news was ‘Do not be afraid’. When the baby was born they named him ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God is with us.’ And the assurance from Saint John’s Gospel is that Jesus, the Word of God ‘shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’
May Jesus, the Word of God, ‘the light who shines in darkness’ be your light and hope; may God be with you all this Christmas and always.
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Bishop of Cork and Ross.