“I invite all of you, but especially public representatives and all who believe in a more just and compassionate world,
to support the call of Pope Francis for an all-out concerted action to end world hunger by the year 2025” – Cardinal Brady
The celebration of Christmas recalling, as it does, the coming into the world of the Son of God, His birth at Bethlehem and His first appearances to people, always brings fresh and joyful hope. These are my hopes this year.
My first hope is that all who come home for Christmas may really feel welcome and appreciate the love of relatives, families and friends, and find the Lord in their loved ones. As those who have come for Christmas from afar know well, the love we experience in our families is precious. For it is a reflection of the love which God has for each one of us – the same love which inspired the Father to send his beloved Son to be our Saviour on that first Christmas night.
I also hope that the great activities of preparing for, and celebrating, Christmas will not overshadow Christ and the many gifts that He wants to bring, especially the gifts of love, peace and pardon. A seventeenth century hymn puts it more poetically thus:
Daughter of Sion, rise
to greet thine infant king
Nor let thy stubborn heart despise
the pardon he doth bring.
My next hope is for those without company, without food and warmth at this season. May they be sustained by the concern of fellow human beings. Of course, I am thinking of people in need here at home but also of people in the Philippines, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I am thinking also especially of the many people throughout the world who have no peace. Through the work of wise and compassionate negotiators, may they too experience the salvation brought by Christ.
My final hope is that all of us come to see that the Birth of Christ means little or nothing if He has not been born in our hearts. This means that the work of Christmas really begins when we console the broken-hearted, feed the hungry, welcome the strangers, release the prisoners and bring peace among people.
For that reason I invite all of you, but especially public representatives and all who believe in a more just and compassionate world, to support the call of Pope Francis for an all-out concerted action to end world hunger by the year 2025. The initiative is called: ‘One Human Family. Food for All’. For far too long we have allowed global hunger and local poverty to be seen as tolerable. The fact is this; we can solve the problem of hunger and poverty, if we decide to do so. Let us recall once more: the work of Christmas begins when we feed the hungry and may God speed that work in 2014.
The people, who made Christmas for me and mine, when I was a child, are long since dead but they are not dead in my heart or in my memory. However, the fact that they live on in my memory will not make them last forever. What will make them last forever is that they are alive in the heart of God. A Saviour has been born for us; he has saved us from everlasting death. Because of Christmas Day, we can all live forever.
Christmas is indeed a special day. May it be very special day for everyone of you this year and may the peace of Jesus triumph in your hearts every day in 2014.
Cardinal Sean Brady is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
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