Bishop Ray’s Christmas Message

Nollaig shona dhíobh go léir.

Christmas 2020 is different. Each home, family and community can look back and acknowledge how difficult 2020 has been collectively and individually. Many have endured severe stress and some have had to cope with life-changing situations. Many cannot be at home for Christmas, be it the Irish living abroad or international people who have made their home in Ireland. It is good to have the days of Christmas as ‘down time’, as family time, and as time to turn to Jesus Christ, our God.

“Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. . . You will find rest for your souls.”       Mt 11:28

Faith in God is at the heart of Christmas. I invite and encourage everyone to each day of the Christmas season pause for a few moments, gaze at the crib, and ponder the mystery:

“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you,

he is Christ the Lord.”

Consider three aspects of the birth of Jesus in a stable:

  1. “Mary and Joseph experienced hardship and concern when Jesus was born, yet the scene in the stable is one of warmth, love and joy”. This Christmas amid any concerns and troubles you have, be in touch with the joy in your own heart.
  2. Mary and Joseph in their distress got good support. The community helped. They were offered the use of the stable and shepherds and the wise men visited. Give thanks for your neighbours and community, a great and vital blessing in all our lives.
  3. The birth of the child Jesus is the mystery of God’s presence in our world. He came to be with us. God is ever present caring for us all, caring for the world amid the corona virus. Renew your hope in God.

Have a grateful and generous heart this Christmas. Appreciate all that is good in your life. Continue to think of others, think of their needs, give practical support and assistance where you can.

If you can afford it, be generous in support of local charities and voluntary bodies, for example, Kerry Parents and Friends, St Vincent de Paul, or the Hospice. Local clubs and organisations dedicated to sport, culture, or music also will benefit from your support.

Well done to our priests, parish workers, ministers, and many others who have contributed to the life of our parishes since last March. I think especially of the generous efforts that have been made to make Mass available via streaming and social media. I also thank all the volunteer cleaners and ushers. Though often unable to gather around the altar, our personal prayer has kept us united in Jesus Christ.

Be understanding as parishes implement their plans for Christmas Mass attendance. Sadly, not everyone who wishes will be able to attend Christmas Mass. Think of alternatives: come to Mass some day before the New Year, tune in to Mass from home, and or visit the church crib as a family.

All of us realise it will be a simple, quiet Christmas, but it will still be a “good Christmas”. Over the years a familiar phrase about Christmas has been “As long as it is special for the young children, isn’t that what matters”. Remember to talk to children about God the Father sending us Jesus, and about Mary the mother of Jesus.

Over the Christmas, each day turn your eyes to the crib for a few moments to nourish your faith. United in the Holy Spirit, let us pray for one another and for all in our communities.   Be assured you are in my prayers in all the Masses I celebrate over the Christmas.

Um Nollaig agus ar feadh na hAthbhliana, síocháin an Linbh Íosa libh go léir.

+ Ray Browne

Diocese of Kerry

Christmas 2020