The Archbishop of Liverpool has reminded us of the first words of the angel to the shepherds of Bethlehem in his Christmas message.
His Grace Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said that the angel told the shepherds not to be afraid as they went to greet the new born king.
“So many of us need those words of the angel today: ‘Do not be afraid…’ Weighed down with the cares of life we fear for the future.” said the archbishop.
“But Christmas gives us hope as we know that Christ is with us. The Prince of Peace comes to us to bring his peace and healing and to give us hope.
“Christmas is a special time, and at the heart of our celebrations is the fact that God became man for us. Two thousand years ago there wasn’t a feast of Christmas yet there was still expectation as people longed for the coming of the Messiah to transform their lives.
“We don’t always get what we expect at Christmas and two thousand years ago people didn’t expect that the Messiah would be born in poverty, to a refugee family forced to leave their home to take part in a census for an occupying power. Homeless, with nowhere to stay they found refuge in a cold, dark stable with only the farm animals for company. Yet lives were about to be transformed.”
The archbishop said that Christmas also a time for “precious memories”.
“Memories of Christmases past – maybe recent or long ago,” he said.
“Memories of loved ones, just by thinking of them we are saying, ‘we love you…you are still with us in our hearts…’ There may be tears too, ‘Do not be afraid’ of them, they are fine because they are a sign of love.
The message of peace and goodwill means it is a time for us to reach out to others, especially to those in need. So many people work in the weeks before Christmas to help those in greatest need. We see people giving up their time to feed the hungry, and to provide a place of refuge for those who are lonely. Those who work in our essential services are there for us too. During the pandemic we have renewed our spirit of care and generosity – we have reached out to others and offered them hope and readily give thanks to those who care.”
“When we gather as far as restrictions allow us, we remember what it is to be a family no matter how few we are or how distant we are from each other. The Holy Family was only three people yet proved to be the source of a great love which has overflowed into our lives two millennia later.
“May our families have the child Jesus at their centre as a source of love and a true source of strength,” he concluded.
Story by Joseph Kelly of www.thecatholicnetwork.co.uk