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CHRISTMAS IS FOR EVERYONE!

Father Francis's picture
Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord

When doing some Christmas shopping I overheard a conversation between two ladies which made me stop to think. One lady said, 'I'm fed up with Christmas!' Her friend replied, 'Well, it's only for children, isn't it?'

I started to wonder what they meant. Perhaps they were both exhausted with all the shopping, baking, present-wrapping and general preparations which Christmas involves. Who could blame them? Or was it because they had somehow lost sight of what Christmas is really about that they were talking in this way?

There is no doubt that children get a lot of pleasure out of Christmas, their excitement increasing as the day draws nearer. There is tinsel in the shops, the school nativity play, a tree to be bought, carols to be sung - and they dream of what Santa Claus is going to bring. It's lovely to see the faces of small children when they look at the decorated tree with its sparkling fairy lights, or they kneel for the first time in front of the crib. We can all remember those experiences from our own childhood, but it's impossible to reproduce the feelings we had then. We are adults now, some of us quite elderly, and as with the old saying, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The cares and anxieties of life have overlain our childhood innocence and we can no longer respond in the same way.

It is sad to have to acknowledge that since last Christmas our world has grown even further away from God, as I am sure you will agree. When we look back on 2016 we will remember some grim events throughout the world - wars, famines, floods and disasters. It might be difficult to see anything to smile about, anything to make us rejoice and celebrate. People whose faith is wavering might wonder whether God has given up on us or gone to sleep. But He never gives up on us! He never abandons His wayward children, for every year at Christmas He gives us His Son to be our Brother and Saviour. His Son is ready to share every aspect of our human lives and encourage us to make our world a better place.

How can we recapture that sense of wonder and mystery that we had as children? Perhaps we can try to look at Christ's birth through the eyes of our own children or grandchildren. We can try to put our trust in Christ, reminding ourselves that He is our Saviour. God sent Him to us because He loves us, and no matter how dangerous and wicked the world becomes, He will never allow evil to triumph. We must have confidence in our heavenly Father, just as our children have confidence in us. We can kneel with our children at the crib and tell Christ humbly that we love Him and need Him. Then He will surely come into our hearts again, just as in years gone by. In the words of the O Little Town of Bethlehem carol, "Where meek souls will receive Him, still The dear Christ enters in."

The lady at the beginning of this homily said that Christmas was only for children. She was wrong because Christmas is for everyone. We all need the Lord Jesus to get us to Heaven. How wonderful it is to see a full church on Christmas Day, knowing our heavenly Father must be pleased to see how many of His children have come to celebrate the birthday of His Son. And I am sure He would like to see this same number in church every Sunday for He has given us the Commandment, "Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day". Perhaps one of our New Year resolutions could be a return to Mass every Sunday if we have stopped doing this at some point in the past.

Heavenly Father, help us to appreciate that You wish to see Your children at Mass every Sunday, and not just at Christmas and Easter. However can we expect to get to Heaven if we only visit You twice a year?

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