Thursday of Christmas Octave 9.30am (30th Dec)
Sunday 2nd January Parish Mass 9.30am
There will be no Tuesday coffee mornings over Christmas and the New Year but they will resume from 11th January 2022.
I hope you have enjoyed unwrapping whatever it is that Santa has brought for you this year. Or maybe you are one of those people with enough self-control to leave it until late morning or afternoon? If you have been giving presents yourself, I do hope that you are better at wrapping them than I am. Usually it ends up being a shapeless bundle, with the starting point of the Sellotape almost impossible to find. At least it makes it more difficult to guess what might be inside the wrapping paper.
Today is a day to focus on God’s gift to us. We celebrate the gift of a child. A new birth is always a cause of celebration for a family, but in this case, the celebration extends far beyond the bounds of that original family. The gift is not inside wrapping paper, but bundled up instead in the traditional swaddling clothes. This child is the one who is proclaimed in the prologue of St John’s gospel as “The Word made flesh”.
So we celebrate an unconventional present given to each and every one of us out of love. All of this was foretold in the scriptures. The gift of God was wrapped up in the words of the prophets and the story of ancient Israel. In the fulness of time the wrapping was opened up and the Word of God was gloriously revealed in human flesh. Jesus began his life in a manger, but he would grow to display the life-changing compassion of God to a world in need. Through him, the grace of God would enter into human life. Still today we receive that inflowing grace in the sacraments and especially as we receive the Body and Blood of the One we worship.
In case you haven’t noticed, the days have become murky and there is not a great deal of daylight. This makes it all the more special that at this time of year we rejoice in the light that has entered into the world, because:
“The Word was the true light that enlightens all people and he was coming into the world.”
Just a few weeks ago we were exploring what it means to be lights for Christ and to adopt a rule of life to enable that light to shine out from our lives. As John’s gospel says about John the Baptist:
“He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.”
In the same way, we are not the light but we can invite the light of Christ to shine through a life of faith so that we witness to his presence among us and his love for the world.
In Jesus we see the nature of God revealed through humility, truth and compassion. His coming was the good news we hear about from the prophet Isaiah. But the birth of Christ is good news in every age. In the Incarnation we glimpse the glory of God in human life. No matter what struggles we face and no matter how wounded our world appears to be, God is with us, because Christ is born to us.
The gifts we receive this Christmas are as always tokens of friendship and generosity. This is a wonderful time of year in which we can spend a bit more time with our families and our friends. But all of these things grow our of God’s generosity to us and that gift at the first Christmas which continues to enrich our lives. The gift we celebrate today is one of pure love and self-giving. In the words of the well-known carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem: “So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.” As we have received, so let us give, love in return for love. May the gift of this holy child bring blessings to each one of us, today and always. Amen.