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The celebration of Christmas recalling as it does the coming into the world of the Son of God, His birth at Bethlehem and His first appearances to people, always brings fresh and joyful hope. These are my hopes this year
My first hope is that all families in the parish will experience afresh the joy of this wonderful season. It is blessed time when the bonds that unite us are reaffirmed. We experience this when we send and receive greetings, when we exchange gifts, when we visit and spend time with each other be they family or neighbour. It is a time of grace that invites us to pause and leave aside the hustle and rushing, and hopefully rediscover the things that are important in life.
It is a time when for so many families the pain of emigration is felt most acutely, and for those who are unable to be with us I hope that they are very much with us in our thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately more and more families are facing the threat of homelessness and the number of homeless is increasing every day. Along with the homeless many experience the burden of financial debt and unemployment. We applaud groups like the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and others who provide shelter, clothing and food and give so much of their time to ensure that our neighbour in need is helped.
During his address to the to the European Parliament in Strasbourg Pope Francis said
“In addressing you today, I would like as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe. It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all our fears, which Europe –together with the entire world – is currently experiencing. It is a message of hope that turns evil into good and death into life.
We all draw encouragement from families who witnesses to and makes real the love of God revealed in Christ. It is based on a love which is permanent, faithful and unconditional, reflecting the way Jesus loves us. My prayer for you is that the self-giving, the sacrifice which is the very essence of married love leads to genuine fulfillment and joy this Christmastime.
Christmas is not just for a day, it is way of life which is a one of self giving more than self satisfaction. The follower of Christ should always know in their hearts what suffering and loneliness means and try to identify with those who struggle on life’s journey.
Christmas is a Feast of mercy. God looked with pity upon us and forgave us our sins. May we also learn to forgive those who have offended us in any way.
I wish you all a share in the true joy and peace of this Holy Season. May children be
blessed, the sick comforted, the distressed find hope and those who are hungry and in need, experience our charity.
Mons. O’Mahony, Mons. Shine, Fr. Toomey.