Bishop Ray’s Christmas Message 22

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish

but may have eternal life”.  Jn 3:16

Dia dhiabh. Nollaig Shona dhiabh go léir.  Christmas is a time when we look back on the year that is passing. We give thanks to God for all that has happened in our lives and we are grateful for all the people who have been good to us. Whatever challenges lie ahead we face them with confidence putting our trust in God, everything will work out, ‘Le Cúnamh Dé’.

Thank you to all in all our parishes who have worked together to ensure that all parish life has recommenced after Covid: The Sacraments, prayer and handing on the faith; the social life of every community; care and support to situations where there is need. Thank you to our priests, deacons, parish secretaries, sacristans, choirs and so many others. Thank God for all local volunteers.

This Christmas remember a prayer for situations of need both local and global. I think of people among us who are ill, greatly troubled or bereaved. I think of the many couples and individuals in our parishes who have tried everything and still cannot secure a place to make their home. I think of the urgency of peace where there is war and for all nations to unite to face the challenge of global warming.

The Christmas lights in town, a great outdoor Christmas tree, or simply observing the wide-eyed wonder of a little child looking at Santa, warmly touches our hearts each Christmas. For me very special moments occur at the crib in church.  The crib is a tribute to the Christmas story and to the creative, artistic and craft skills of a parish team assembled each year to ‘do the crib’. It is special just to watch people of all ages come to the crib and pause for a while!

The Cathedral crib here in Killarney is a must visit for families from far and near each year. There are all the usual elements: the Holy family and the shepherds; the cow, the donkey, and the sheep; the stables, the manger and the straw. Additional elements vary:  trees, flowers and a fawn; a pond with some ducks; doves or a robin; and the lights of Bethlehem in the background. The focal point is the new-born baby Jesus. Mary is gazing down at her child bringing our focus to the child.  Why is a baby born in a stable so important? We ponder the mystery, “He shall be called Emmanuel” a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.  Mt 1:23

  • The crib reminds parents of the first days after their own first child was born. The gift and the miracle of every new-born child points to the fantastic and incredible gift and miracle of God the Father sending the new-born child, the Son of God.
  • Jesus was born in insecurity and poverty, likewise he died in poverty, stripped even of his clothing. We ought to live more simply, as possessions and wealth do not give happiness. it is to be found in family, people, and community. Jesus lived life in its fullness joyfully.
  • A beautiful crib scene reminds us that all nature is a gift from God. In recent decades science and technology has given such power over nature into human hands. There would be no human race without planet earth, and at present we are asking too much of the earth and many of our ways will have to change.
  • Mary put her trust in God every day of Jesus’ life, from his birth in a stable, to his years of public ministry, to his death on Calvary. Her rule of life was ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me’. Whatever 2023 may bring have confident trust in God’s presence, guidance and support, as Our Lady did.
  • At the birth of Jesus the angels sang of ‘peace on earth’. Pray for peace in the Ukraine and wherever there is war or conflict. A prayer too for peoples displaced by war, and for all migrants among us.

Put the crib scene, the birth of Jesus, at the centre of your Christmas. Let it remind you that God ‘so loves the world’, and that all of us have so much to be grateful for. Let God’s goodness to us inspire our goodness to others.

Le gach dea-ghuí, í gcomhair na Nollag. Every Christmas blessing on all in our communities.

   + Ray Browne   

Diocese of Kerry 

Christmas 2022.