Bishop John Sherrington: The light shines in the darkness (John 1:5)
The light shining out from the face of the Christ-child illuminates the faces of Mary and Joseph who gaze upon him with love. His light touches the hearts of the shepherds whose lives are warmed and feel the welcome of the Saviour into their messy and broken lives. The light of this child draws the magi to Bethlehem and invites them into the friendship with the One whose love is made manifest.
We too are drawn to the face of the newly-born child whose smile welcomes us and invites us to gaze lovingly upon him. On Christmas Day many people will gather with family and friends and allow the love and light of this child to brighten up their lives, give them a reason to hope and know the joy of God’s mercy which they are promised. Visits to nursing homes and prisons, the feeding of the homeless and the welcoming of lonely people speak of the love which this child inspires and by action proclaims the message of peace sung by the angels. 'For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6).
May the blessing of God touch into your hearts this Christmas so that you may be messengers of joy to those people who yearn to hear again a word of healing, a message of peace and a promise of hope.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson: Christ, the Measure of Humanity
‘Make your home in me, as I make mine in you’ (John 15: 4). Jesus speaks these words at the end of his life but they explain, better almost than any other words he uttered, the beginning of his life - that he comes to make his home in us.
That he comes to make his home is us we can just about grasp. But to make our home in him – now what does that mean? I believe it is about setting our hearts on him; setting ourselves close to him, as Peter exhorts us in his First Letter (2, 4); setting our hearts on the Kingdom. Whenever I dwell on the newborn Christ, the words that always arise in my heart are the words of Christina Rosetti: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give him - give my heart!’ As we come to adore the Lord this Christmas night in all the different cribs across the Diocese, let us strive, each one of us, to make these words our own: give him our hearts!
Contemplating the Christ-child there, we might consider as well stirring words uttered by Pope Benedict XVI in an Angelus address of 2007, when he said this: ‘At the end of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be evaluated on the basis of our likeness - or lack of it - to the Child who is about to be born in the poor grotto of Bethlehem, because he is the criterion of the measure that God has given to humanity.’
I wish you a blessed and deeply happy Christmas! I pray the Lord come indeed to make his home in you; and that we, each of us, learn to make our home in him.
Cardinal Vincent's Christmas message can be viewed HERE.