ARCHBISHOP COSTELLOE'S 2015 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: Putting Mercy at the Heart of Christmas
This year, as our Catholic community celebrates the wonderful feast of Christmas with the rest of our society, we do so at the very beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. This special year began on December 8 and will conclude next year on the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016.
Because of this initiative of Pope Francis, we have a wonderful opportunity to put the idea, and practice, of mercy at the heart of our Christmas celebrations this year.
Let me explain what I mean.
When Saint John, in his Gospel, reflected on the mystery of God coming among us in Jesus he did so in these terms: God loved the world so much that he sent us his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16). This was an act of mercy. It was also, as Saint John says, an act of love.
God, who created us in love, knows that on our own we cannot live our lives as fully and as richly as we would wish and as God wishes. Through the gift of his Son Jesus, and through Jesus's extraordinary life of compassion and self-giving even to the point of death on the cross, God has planted in our hearts a precious gift: the gift of knowing that, even in our frailty and sinfulness, we are deeply loved, valued and cherished.
As Saint Augustine reminds us, God has made us for himself and our hearts will always be restless until they rest in him. In Jesus, who invites us to come to him and find our rest in him, God's love is made real and accessible.
This gift of love, which is at the same time a gift of deep compassion and mercy, can become, if we want it to be, the very gift we give to each other. In this sense all the other gifts we give this Christmas, no matter how simple they may be, or how elaborate, will take on a deep and lasting value in the lives of those who receive them. They will be signs of the love, merciful forgiveness, and compassionate generosity which we carry in our hearts and which we are determined to share with those we love.
If we place mercy, the generous giving of ourselves which is born of love and compassion, at the heart of our Christmas this year, our own celebration will not be a passing thing. Rather it will begin to transform us into the people we most deeply want to be, the people God has created us to be.
The peace and joy about which we sing in our Christmas Carols will then become not mere words but a deeply felt experience of life as it is meant to be.
I wish you all a deeply happy and joy-filled Christmas.
To watch the video of my 2015 Christmas Message, Click Here
+Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB