On Wednesday 19 December, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor spoke on Radio 2’s Chris Evans breakfast show, delivering his Christmas Pause for Thought. A audio recording of the Cardinal's reflection is available here 2 hours, 57 minutes and 32 seconds into the recording. Alternatively the text of the reflection is available below.
Whilst living in Rome, I was marked by a true story of brotherly love. It was the end of the War and most unusual for Italy, heavy snow had fallen. Two boys, aged twelve and six had been abandoned by their parents and the eldest brother , knew of a place where orphan boys could find shelter and help, but that place was fifteen miles away and the snow was very deep. Too little to be able to walk through the snow, the eldest brother put the youngest on his back and piggy-backed him through the snow until at last, exhausted, he reached the shelter. He was welcomed by a priest who said to him, “You came all that way with that burden on your back!” And the boy said, “That’s not a burden – that’s my brother”.
Most people have some kind of burden in their lives. It might be a sickness or some sorrow one finds painful to bear. Christians believe that the feast we celebrate at Christmas helps us remember that God came into our world to bring reconciliation, light and hope. He came to turn blows into kisses and burdens into blessings. There is a very nice custom in Slavonic countries that at the end of Christmas Mass each person kisses their neighbour on both cheeks and says, “Christ is born”, and the reply is, “Truly He is born”. And then around the whole church each one exchanges kisses with everybody else. The coming of Christ brings new hope to our world and to each one of us. He turns burdens into blessings. You know, you can kill people in crowds but you can only kiss them one by one. My wish for you this Christmastide is that you will find the opportunity to reach out to a neighbour or friend who is worried, concerned or in pain, and in doing so find inner peace and reconciliation. May this Christmas be a happy time for you and your burdens be turned to blessings.