Fr Billy Swan
Dear friends. It’s Christmas Night/Day - one of the most important days of the year for believers everywhere and for families all over the world. At the centre of it all is the Christ child born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago who came to reconcile, unite and connect all things. This is the work for which he came and it is still the work that goes on through his presence with us as he promised. On this holy night/day, I share a few thoughts on this theme of connection and re-connection.
Christmas connects us to loved ones who live around the world and who are not home for Christmas. Here in the parish tonight/this morning, we remember all the diaspora from our parish around the world whose thoughts are of home this Christmas. Many of them were connected to us via the webcam.
Christ born today connects us with many people who are spending their first Christmas with us here in Ireland and here in Wexford.
The Christmas story brings into sharp focus the homeless and those in temporary or poor accommodation. Within an hour of his Christ’s birth, Joseph had not found a safe place where Mary could deliver her child. Because of the circumstances of Jesus’ plight and later as a refugee, God draws close to the homeless, especially at Christmas.
The Christ child connects us to our beloved dead and they to us. We think of those who will have an empty chair at the kitchen table for Christmas dinner tomorrow/today. But although it is hard, our love still connects us to them for love is stronger than death and we will see them again. This is only possible because of the Christ child who is born for us today and who would later walk out of the grave.
The crib that we see in our Church is an icon of God’s work of connection. Everyone is connected because of the new-born Saviour. Mary is connected to Joseph, the shepherds to the wise men, the rich to the poor, animals to people and even the stars move around him. Christ is the centre of all for as St John reminds us in Gospel, all things were made through him.
But most importantly, Christ comes to reconnect us to God. Today, the Father offers the gift of his Son to humanity, to each one of us. In the words of the early Fathers of the Church, because of today, God became human so that we could become partakers of his divinity. Whether we realise it or not, this is the life for which we long for and the joy for which we are made.
Let this celebration of Christmas not just be another party. Let it be a spiritual revolution that sees us make a new beginning where Christ and his kingdom are placed unambiguously at the centre of our lives. This spiritual revolution is not a fuzzy feeling or a once-a-year tradition. It must translate into a choice and a commitment. So here is a gentle but firm challenge. If you go to church just once a year, make a commitment to go twice a year. If you go twice a year, go four times a year. If you go once every two weeks, choose to go every week. Go and make a good confession. Re-connect with God. Seek help in making that first step. There will be people to support and welcome you.
Friends, here is how God wishes to lead us into a deeper relationship of friendship and intimacy with him. He wants us to stop dancing with false gods, to stop toying with addictions that bring us only sadness and loneliness. For when we re-connect with God, He helps us to become our true selves and we are never alone. Only then can we be happy. For when Christ is at the centre, then everything has balance and beauty.
May this joy and beauty be yours today – the joy and beauty that comes from our connection to the Christ child born for us on Christmas Night/Day. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!