Christmas Message 2019

Christmas is our celebration of the God who is with us.

It’s 10 weeks since I was ordained bishop. In that time, I have visited parishes, schools, healthcare providers, and welfare agencies in various parts of the diocese, and met with groups and committees that are involved with different dimensions of the life of the church, both in the diocese and more broadly. I am on a steep learning curve about the extraordinary richness and diversity of people and activities that are taking place in our region.

As I discover more about the ministry of bishop, one of the things that is becoming clear is that it will bring me into contact with an enormous range of people, places and activities in our church: meeting them, and supporting and encouraging their efforts to live as part of the community of Jesus’ disciples. In large part, what I bring to these occasions as bishop is a tangible reminder that we are all part of something bigger than the immediate concerns that demand our attention and energy. Each individual person, each family, each group, activity, parish and school is part of the diocesan church, and it is only through those various efforts that the diocese is present and active.

Our celebration of Christmas is a similar reminder for us, but on a cosmic scale. God is the creator of all, who brought our universe into existence and shares the miracle of life with each of us in our coming into the world. That same God entered into the smallest and most easily overlooked part of his creation. He doesn’t come into our world in a grand procession, but in the utter vulnerability and simplicity of a new born baby, whose parents cannot find a decent place to stay, even at this time of great need for them. In doing that, Jesus reveals the holiness of the smallest and plainest parts of creation, marking out everything about our humanity as destined to share in his divinity.

For many, the joy that we proclaim at Christmas is difficult to feel personally. The struggles of sickness, grief, loneliness, separation, family tension, homelessness, drought, bushfire, and unemployment can be even more difficult to bear at this time of year. When we celebrate that God is with us in the baby born in Bethlehem, it is precisely these experiences of struggle and challenge that we should think of. When Jesus is born into our humanity, he does not enter only into the times of joy and cheerfulness; he also enters into the smallest, plainest, and most painful parts of our lives. We can look for him there and welcome him, confident that each of us has a place at the Christmas celebration of his presence with us.

I wish each of you and your family a peaceful, safe, and holy Christmas.

 

Bishop Shane Mackinlay
Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

 

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