The Word was the true light that enlightens all people;
and he was coming into the world.
No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son,
who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. Jn 1: 9
Christmas reminds us that in God, the Creator and Lord of all, we have one who is a true Father to us all. He will always be there for us. He has sent his Son Jesus to us. It is wonderful that Christmas is so strong as a family celebration. So many people say things like: It is all about children; Are you going home for Christmas?; Contact home for Christmas. God bless all homes and families especially where there are young children.
This Christmas we are mindful of families who have no homes or who could be made homeless in the New Year, – the homeless in Ireland, the millions of refugees leaving North Africa. It is so sad, especially where there are children. Christmas challenges us to respond to their plight. Christmas reveals to us that all people on earth are one great family, one family with God as Our Father. As you gaze on the new born Baby Jesus in the crib, see all people as your sisters and brothers. Jesus, whose first home was the stable in Bethlehem, dwells in every home. Under His loving care may we all live loving, gentle and contented lives. One day we will all be a family united together around God Our Father in heaven.
People say Christmas is sad for the bereaved: often it turns out to be the opposite. Families have time to be together, to pause and remember the loved one who has died, to recall precious memories, and to support and comfort one another. And Jesus came into the world to open the door to eternal life. The bereaved often experience Christmas as hope and consolation.
Be as generous as you can with the local charities and causes who fundraise at this time of year. Their voluntary service is so valuable, something to be proud of. Make time for the faith side of Christmas: sacred Christmas music on radio or T.V.; EWTN; a Carol Service; the Nativity Play in National School; an afternoon visiting the beautiful cribs in local churches; read a spiritual Christmas article in a missionary magazine; each day spend a few quite minutes before the crib at home. Have Jesus at the centre of your Christmas.
A happy and a peaceful Christmas to one and all. God bless all the people of the Diocese of Kerry: young and old; healthy and sick; those for whom it is the happiest of years; those for whom it is the most difficult of years. God bless all who cannot journey home for Christmas. Thanks to everyone for your contribution to the life of your parish and of the diocese in the past year. Thank you for the way you live by faith, hope and love. In all our communities let us ensure that there is no one who is lonely or without a visitor this Christmas, nobody without a Christmas dinner or a lift to Mass. All around us there is so much that is good, thanks be to God.
Bishop Ray Browne