Dear Doctimus Prime,
If I had the opportunity to address a congregation on Christmas day, here is what I would probably say:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Lk2:6-7
These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: “You will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step into history, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. We can imagine the kind of interior preparation, the kind of love with which Mary approached that hour. The brief phrase: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes” allows us to glimpse something of the holy joy and the silent zeal of her preparation. The swaddling clothes were ready, so that the child could be given a fitting welcome. Yet there is no room at the inn.
In some way, we are waiting for God, waiting for him to draw near. But when the moment comes, there is no room for him. We can become so preoccupied with ourselves that we leave no space and no time for others – for our neighbour, for the poor, for God.
The Christmas season speaks for itself. It’s no cleverly invented myth, neither is it un-reason-able. Christ took on human flesh and became ONE OF US. The joy which attends it is enough to turn gloom into grace, despair into hope and war into peace. The message of the season is timely. The message we should focus on is that of FAMILY. God in Jesus Christ has come to join the human family. He has come to mend all that is broken in our hearts, in our homes and in our society. Many homes today are only houses where people come to sleep at night and leave as soon as day breaks. Parents have become so busy that they barely know their children. Children are left with no one but their peers, television and the internet as their guardians and teachers of what is right and wrong. Christ has come to teach us that children are vulnerable and they need all the attention, understanding and care they can get. The fatherly protection of Joseph and the tender care of Mary are vivid examples of how parents are to guide their children. Will Christ find shelter in your homes?
More than ever before, your home is to be a place where Christ is known and loved. You should pray and study the Bible as a family, or at least ask each other what you learnt in Church. You should welcome people and where possible, help to reduce their suffering with financial, moral and spiritual support. If Christ finds a home in your family, his grace, blessings and favour shall never depart.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great (540-604) has this to say to you:
“The angels consider man as their equal because they adore God made man, sitting at the right hand of the Father. Let us, therefore, beloved brethren, beware of every sin… Let us lead such good lives that they may correspond with our dignity. Avoid, therefore, impurity and lust, even every sinful thought. Let not wickedness soil the purity of your souls; let not the poison of envy and hatred penetrate your hearts. Keep your souls free from pride, covetousness and anger, and especially from the desire of tasting the sinful pleasures of this world. Remember that you have been called the children of the Most High (Ps 82:6). Defend in yourselves the glory of God by avoiding sin, for God was made man in order to honour us and make us partakers of His eternal glory.”
May Christ newly born find a home in your families and may His glory never depart from you, Amen.