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Emmanuel means God is with us

A Christmas reflection from Bishop Nicholas Hudson

He suffers with us.  Emmanuel means God is with us.  So he suffers when we suffer.  That will be my message when I go to prison and hospice on Christmas Eve.  He came, not just to be born among us, but to suffer with us.  He came to experience everything we experience so that no one could ever say thereafter that our God is a God who does not know what it is to be human. The Word became Flesh so that he could enjoy everything we enjoy, suffer everything we suffer. 

I shall remind the prisoners that he even went to prison.  On the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we visited a dungeon close by Caiaphas’s Palace where it is thought Jesus may have been imprisoned the night before he died.  We pilgrims knelt on Golgotha: the sick and dying I shall remind that he knew terrible pain in his body.  We entered the tomb close by, his tomb, a reminder that he even went into the tomb with us so that, even in death, we are not alone. And from that tomb he rose; and waits to take us with him. 

For now, I will say, we may console ourselves with sweeter thoughts, of the silver star which marks the place of his birth in Bethlehem.  Our pilgrim hearts soared to be told, ‘No one disputes that this is the place.’  For now, let each of us simply savour the thought of Mary and Joseph’s relief at the baby having been delivered safely; imagine them marvelling at their child, recalling the message of Gabriel nine months previously saying, ‘He will be called Emmanuel, a name which means God is with us.’ 

Poor pilgrim that I am, I go to prison and hospice falteringly to announce the same: that he suffers with us.  And I will suggest that, if we wonder how on earth to respond, let each of us, as we return to cell or ward or, the fortunate among us, our own house, give him our heart this night as he surely gave his to us.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Christmas 2015


Photo: Fr Lawrence Lew OP