Most of us come to this Christmas period physically and mentally tired; ‘running on empty’, hanging out for an few weeks of respite with family and friends, with summer days ahead and the hope of relaxation that January brings. We have been anticipating this time and the hope that it may offer us a time of relaxation, personal replenishment and enjoyment with good friends.
For some of us Christmas Day may not indeed be the most enjoyable of days with all its hype and obligation. For others, it is a great day for family life and deep appreciation. But it is just one day that quickly passes and we don’t often have or make the opportunity to reflect upon this day’s spiritual significance that should colour the weeks that follow.
Christmas is a time of deep appreciation with its many layers of significance; namely appreciation for ourselves, what it is to be human, for the loves of our lives, family and friends etc. At the very centre of our faith life is the Child born to us and for us – Christ Jesus – the source of life and newness. The challenge for us this Christmas is to draw spiritual richness from Christ’s birth that will give meaning and focus to our very existence.
As we celebrate Christmas, perhaps ‘running on empty spiritually’, the words of the Prophet Ezekiel might well sum up our longings for newness of life. The baby Jesus speaks to us in the words of Ezekiel: “A new heart I will give to you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you …and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ez 36:26).
If we were to long for the gift of this new heart, this new spirit, not only just over Christmas but through the months ahead, we would be transformed in every way. This is Christ’s promise for life. A free gift for life… given in his birth and through his cross.
Pope Francis has been continually drawing our attention, during the Year of Mercy that has just finished, to the need to live simply, without greed, to be devoid of opulence so that the spirit of God can touch us. He coaches us to disregard the quest to accumulate those things in life that can grow to possess us. Rather he asks us to acknowledge the mercy of God in our lives and to show mercy to those around us. The baby Jesus bears God’s everlasting gift of mercy to each of us this Christmas. May his mercy and compassion transform our lives this Christmas.
On behalf of our military chaplains, I would like to wish all serving ADF members and families every Christmas blessing. Thank you for your committed service. To our deployed members, we wish you every peace and joy. May God reward you abundantly for your generous service. We pray for your families and for their support. To our veterans and the many who contribute to this diocese through prayers and in financial support; thank you for your generosity. It is most appreciated.
Wishing you all every peace and joy and God’s abundant gifts in Jesus this Christmas.
Monsignor Peter O’Keefe