This Christmas as is customary both Auxiliary Bishops of Westminster went out to celebrate Mass with those who could not come to church.
On Christmas Eve, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Midnight Mass at St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney and on Christmas Day he celebrated two Masses at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. On the same day Bishop John celebrated Mass at HMP Bronzefield in Ashford in the morning and at HMP The Mount in Hemel Hempstead in the afternoon.
Speaking of this tradition, Bishop Nicholas said, 'I do think it’s a beautiful tradition that bishops are asked to go out at Christmas to celebrate with those who are prevented from coming to church – so that the Church goes out to them. It seems all of a piece with Pope Francis’s exhortation to pastors to go out and find the sheep. I will gladly go at the end of this week to find Christ’s sheep. And I know I shall meet Christ in them. After all, the Lord told us, did he not, “I was … sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (Mt 25:36)? It's about going to be with people in Gethsemane. And Pope Francis amplifies the Lord’s words when he says that when we reach out to those who are in need, we touch the suffering flesh of Christ. (EG 24)
Meanwhile Bishop John in his homilies at both prisons spoke of the poverty of the Christ Child who was born in poverty in a stable in Bethlehem. He asked those in the congregation to ponder the words of John: 'God so loved the world, so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.' (Jn 3:16)
Reminding them of the words of 'O Little Town of Bethlehem', he invited all those present to 'allow God to enter into our hearts this day'.
Echoing the words of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, he said, 'Never forget the deepest meaning of the Incarnation: that God so loved the world, so loved you, that he came to find space in your mind and in your heart where he can be with you and you with him.'