“Mary give birth to her first-born Son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger” (Lk 2: 7). When we think of Christmas, this is the image that flashes before our mind the Mother Mary and the Child Jesus in the unadorned surroundings of a cave and manger at Bethlehem.
We are told explicitly by St. Luke that there was no room for them in the warmth and shelter of the inn. Mary and Joseph were homeless on the night of their child’s birth. It gives food for thought that “the place where God was homeless” all of us feel at home.
Yet, this Christmas there will be many families struggling to survive. The number of those who are without a home in our cities is increasing. Many are lonely, hungry, living alone, unemployed, discouraged. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and similar groups are busier than ever.
Our Christian charity is called upon to be as generous as possible to those in need, and to stretch out a helping hand to those who are or have become poor, those who are alone and look wistfully at the outside world in festive revelry.
The celebration of the Church’s liturgy with midnight Mass and other celebrations of the Eucharist on Christmas Day, or throughout the holy Season, bring us back to the heart of the mystery of this Feast. There we ponder the startling truth that the all-powerful God gave his only Son into our hands. If God loved us so much, we must all, high or low, rich or poor, be precious in his eyes.
Christmas is a Feast of mercy. God looked with pity upon us and in mercy forgave us our sins. May we also learn to forgive those who have offended us in any way.
I wish you all a share in the true joy and peace of this holy Season. May children be blessed, the sick comforted, the distressed find hope and those who are hungry and in need, experience the consideration and charity of you, the people of the Diocese who care.
Síocháin an Linbh Íosa i gcroí gach duine. Nollaig shona agus Bliain úr faoi mhaise.
Most Rev. Dr. Philip Boyce, O.C.D. Bishop of Raphoe