As I look back on 2018 the high point of the year for
me was the visit of Pope Francis to the World
Meeting of Families. During his visit Pope Francis
said “the World Meeting of Families has given us
great hope and encouragement that families are
growing more and more conscious of their own
irreplaceable role in passing on the faith”. For him
family is a key aspect of life.
Christmas is a family time, a time for all generations,
just as the first Christmas was such a family moment,
not just the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
but for the entire family of God, all people of all
generations. At Croke Park Pope Francis reminded us
that a society that does not value grandparents will
end up lacking that quality that really matters – love.
This is a love and dream that so many, including our
parents and grandparents, lived out in the dream and
reality of marriage. Pope Francis encouraged each
married person to keep repeating in their heart: “I will
never fail you or forsake you!” They are the same
sentiments God has for his people (Heb 13: 5).
The Christmas story is so familiar and yet it always
seems fresh. There is the good news of a baby, the
good news of a birth and good news of a bright future
for all humanity. The Christmas story has expectation,
joy and great hope for the future. But side by side
with these positive elements are darker ones,
uncertainty, vulnerability and danger. The
circumstances of the birth of the Saviour were not at
all easy for baby or parents. That is the way life often
is. Side by side with great joy there can be sorrow,
alongside hopes there can be fears, accompanying
successes is sometimes failure. So the darker side, the
vulnerable side of Christmas, is nothing new. It is
very human and realistic that these contrasting
emotions and circumstances coexist. Mary decided to
invite the ‘source of peace’ to enter our world. Let us
do the same.
I wish you and your family members a happy
Christmas, a peaceful and hopeful experience, as we
remember the birth of our Saviour.
Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
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