CARDINAL SEÁN BRADY
on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.
You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.
That famous prophesy from the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ. When I hear it read at Midnight Mass every Christmas Eve – it never fails to lift my heart. We all need at times to see a great light – especially when we find ourselves in darkness – the darkness of doom and gloom, the darkness of despondency and despair.
Christ is our light – He breaks through the gloom, dispels the deepest darkness and enables us to understand the meaning and value of our own lives and indeed of all of history.
Down through the centuries the New Born King has brought comfort and consolation to generations of people all over the world. Seeing the Baby Jesus in the Crib has given us strength through good times and bad – especially the bad times – for in the fullness of difficult times Jesus was born and continues to be born. His gaze of love, outstretched arms of welcome and disarming innocence bring us to our knees in worship.
In Ireland this Christmas, many are experiencing the fullness of difficulties – with the economic recession, the unprecedented flooding and the horrendous scandal of child abuse within the Church and how it was handled. And yet, it is precisely into this agonising, here and now of our world, our country and our Church, that Jesus comes with his blessing. He comes to tell us the outstanding Good News of God’s healing love and mercy, for He is God’s word of ever-faithful love, coming to bring us fresh joy and hope.
We believe that God’s mercy and God’s healing love are without end. So this Christmas, we remember all those who live in darkness and confusion and doubt. We pray that they may be led into the light of the truth, which is Jesus Christ.
We hope that as we prepare for Christmas we may be moved by the plight of the poor in our world and bring them Christ in practical ways of love and help.
Because Christ is God in our midst we have confidence in asking him to bless us and keep us calm all through this Christmas. When we are tempted to panic, may he reassure us with the consoling warmth of his presence.
I wish all of you and all those whom you love, a blessed Christmas – a Christmas rich in the knowledge of God’s love for you and rich in the peace of God’s care for you.