I send my Christmas greetings to all who read this blog. For those of us who have celebrated Advent and meditated on the great Prophecies of the Messiah, it is a moment of quiet, of forgetting the barrage of commercial marketing and incitation to overeat, get drunk and acquire useless possessions. It is a moment when we remember the realisation of those Prophecies of old – the three-fold coming of our Saviour: in the Crib of Bethlehem, in the Mysteries of the liturgy – and the final παρουσία.
We should not forget that the joy of Christmas has been taken away from so many, and it is often the saddest and loneliest time of year. Most of us are with family or friends, or in our communities – but many are alone, ill and bereaved. Others still are homeless or far away from home in the army, on ships, on foreign assignments. We should spare a thought for those who share the plight of the Holy Family in a stable for animals because there was nowhere else to go. Those who are persecuted in the Middle East by hard-line Muslims will certainly not be forgotten.
Christmas is also a sad moment when we see insincerity and hypocrisy, and not only the “Bah! Humbug!” of misers. Many families cover their unhappiness through the ritual of giving presents and the overeating. Many of us will eat a rich meal and have a little more to drink than usual – nothing wrong with that. Christmas is not only the celebration of the Nativity of the divine Word – but is also a pagan feast of our northern culture. We have Christmas trees and decorations, we celebrate the Sol invictus of the Winter Solstice (the opposite for those who live in the Southern Hemisphere) and enchant our children.
May this feast be a time also of quietness and prayer, solidarity with those who weep and mourn, for us all who have lost someone we love from our families or among our friends. Christmas is above all a time of quiet and humility, being reasonable with our pagan celebrations, so that the little voice of God may be heard.