By Fr. Gerry McDougall
On the holy night when Jesus Christ was born, the angels of God brought good news of great joy to poor shepherds, who camped in the fields about Bethlehem, watching their flocks: their Saviour and ours had come! The shepherds went to the stable, the humble place of Jesus’ birth, and reverenced the miraculous child, Emmanuel. They told the angels’ message to his mother Mary, to his guardian Joseph, who listened to them in wonder and awe. After their amazing encounter, the shepherds went forth praising God.
Christmas is a feast of great joy for the world, when we remember in thanksgiving the Saviour’s birth in our own lives, our own hearts. In recent years, Pope Francis has shown us, in words and actions, the joy that is central to the good news of faith by which we live. We have seen and felt joy through the special angels of our own lives, who have brought the good news to us: the deep, sincere and unwavering joy in the hearts of people like DOS Rose Peltier, who passed away in May, and DOW Clara Trudeau, who passed away in December. Like the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem, poverty of spirit prepares the human heart to receive the good news these angels bring, by word and deed, good news of joy that sends us on, to move forward, seeking the incarnate presence of Christ in the world, in our neighbour, in ourselves.
Encountering Christ today, we find him in the joyful, but also the sorrowful of the world. The suffering of victims of war, of refugees, of the politically and economically oppressed, of the religiously persecuted, of the victims of disasters, must always be forefront in our hearts. The daily struggles of those living with abuse, with addiction, or with illness, physical or mental, beg the light of Christ. Grief for the loss of loved ones challenges superficial attempts to create Christmas happiness.
These realities of our times call us to bring the good news we have heard with love in all of its dimensions. Like Mary and Joseph, we are called to love with compassion, mercy, patience and fidelity. With the Holy Family, we must always put our trust and hope in God, the Creator who loves each one of us without measure, and see every human being truly as a sister or brother of Jesus. The good news of Jesus Christ is for all people, and all creation.
As we go forward to the feast of the Nativity and beyond, may the love of God renew in our hearts the joy, hope and peace of Christ. May we be amazed, in awe and wonder, of the salvation God has given to us. May we bear the message of angels, that Jesus Christ is born, to the many whose lives he wants to touch and heal.