Bishop Kenneth Kearon and Bishop Brendan Leahy pictured together last Christmas
It’s been a year to remember, mostly for the wrong reasons because of COVID-19 but, in many respects too, for the right reasons because of the resilience, humanity, charity and caring we have seen in response! Of course, we finished the year with a great memory to take from it - winning of the McCarthy Cup was such a positive end to the year.
Now we are approaching Christmas. What sentiment might we express as we contemplate the Nativity scene? For some our celebration will be tinged with sadness – a family member who can’t make it home this Christmas, perhaps someone close to us died during the year. We know tragically that this year has seen a rise in the incidence of domestic abuse. For many, however, the COVID-19 crisis has helped us discover a new appreciation and gratitude in our heart for how important family is in our lives. Despite many moments of challenge and heartbreak we have also witnessed many touching scenes of family care this year. There have been many quality moments of life together as families. So perhaps this Christmas let’s nurture the sentiment of gratitude for the gift of family.
Jesus came two thousand years ago into our world and he lived in a family. Shepherds came to see him in the manager with Mary and Joseph by his side. Today too, Jesus wants to come into our world. Each of our families can be a ’Bethlehem’ for others to come, see and experience Jesus. How? By the love we have for one another. It is what Jesus said: by this all will know you are my disciples if you love another. Christmas can come alive in our families in putting his New Commandment of love for one another into practice.
Look at the Christmas cards on the mantlepiece – many will depict the simple family scene in a stable; many of our shops will have a crib in the window, and certainly all of churches will have that image centre stage. Let that simple family scene lift our hearts in thanks for the wonder and beauty of our families, enriched by God’s Presence this Christmas time.