Christmas 2018

“Unleash the Gospel” is the title chosen for the renewal programme of the Archdiocese of Detroit, in the United States of America. The vision which underlines the programme was set out on Pentecost Sunday in 2017 and I have read of it many times since. The mental image it conjures up is of the Gospel on a leash, held in check, and straining to be free. And, of course, at the centre of it all is Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary.

Christ at the centre of all of life, and of my life in particular is an on-going challenge. There are many things clamouring for attention in our world and in daily life, important things, essential things and others of lesser importance. Christmas time and all that goes with the preparation and the celebration of this holy season is an invitation to focus our attention on Jesus Christ, on Jesus at the centre of all of creation. In these days we will celebrate the birth of Jesus in time and in space, so that we might “attend to the birth of Christ within us” each day, a phrase I heard prayed this Advent which has stayed with me. Christmas is a time to savour that life of Jesus Christ within us, which is born, and reborn, and which can be unleashed or held in check. To savour this life of Jesus Christ with us, with family, with friends, with community, and with the community of faith, again and again until we are eternally in God.

This has been an eventful year in the life of the Church in Ireland and the visit of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families was a highpoint. His presence, his care and concern, his words spoken formally and informally, all pointed to  his faith in Jesus Christ, present and active in the Church and in society. The visit gave me new hope, and as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Spe Salvi 31 “we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day.” Perhaps the visit of Pope Francis was one of the ‘greater or lesser hopes’ for us, “but these are not enough without the great hope … this great hope can only be God …God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety.” (Spe salvi 31).

Jesus, the ‘God with us’ has a human face, born of Mary, shared our human existence, and is born within each of us, we welcome him anew this Christmas and pray that his presence be “unleashed”.

A very happy and holy Christmas season to all who log in to our Province website.

Derry Murphy, SAC.