Over the last few weeks I have been struck by a range of different stories. On the one side there are many stressful and shocking situations around every corner and around the world. On the other side, there are great people and groups who can laugh in the face of the bleak mid-winter, trusting that spring always lurking below the surface.
For me, Christmas is a not just a hollow laugh in the face of difficulties. It is a celebration of God’s radical solidarity with us in the midst of the noisy rush that often has little space for a couple and their baby. Emmanuel, God-with-us, comes in the form of a little family, forced to flee because a powerful king is ready to sacrifice children to preserve his power.
I hope that we can work together to pour what Pope Francis called ‘the balm of mercy’ on so many hurting lives and that church-goers will be active as ‘missionaries of mercy’. Our real confidence lies not in the ho-ho-ho of Santa but in the cry of a baby, who is God, the subversive little one who is stronger than the powerful.
I pray that we can all enjoy some joy of new life in our hearts this Christmas season.
- Bishop Donal McKeown is Bishop of Derry.
- See catholicbishops.ie for more messages and reflections for Christmas 2016.