In today’s troubled world, Christmas celebrates the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, through the Holy Spirit is making such a difference to the lives of those who relate personally with him. As they pray, worship and strive to live as he taught, they experience his power in their lives.
We celebrate how so many are experiencing Christ’s guidance. He is helping them with their challenges, problems and moments of confusion. He is helping too those who are wondering about the direction of their lives, be they young or old; stricken by serious illness or grieving the loss of a loved one or a marriage; whether they have lost their job or their financial security.
There are spouses Christ is drawing closer through the Sacrament of Marriage; sinners finding forgiveness; people with life hurts experiencing healing. Many experiencing sicknesses and the frailty of the senior years are being confronted and strengthened.
People who are poor or experiencing a range of other needs are being helped by those Christ inspires to join organisations that try to support and provide for them. Christ inspires others to teach, to care for the elderly, to serve as pastoral workers in a range of settings.
Christ inspires commitment to social justice and the promotion of reconciliation. He calls believers to make a difference in the world.
Christ supports his followers through the ministry of priests. In rural areas, often the priest is the only one free of self interest whom struggling farmers can confide in.
Christ is empowering people to love too in ways which are beyond human effort alone. He is empowering them to forgive, to be merciful, to be just as he is.
Christ’s power gradually is freeing those with sufficient faith in him from all in their lives that is not of God. He has shared with them God’s own life through Baptism. As they nurture this life within them, and nourish it with the Eucharist, their increasing likeness to Christ is revealed in their thoughts, words and actions. This strengthens relationships and they become people who promote the positive and happiness in others.
These are but a few examples of the many ways the Christ born at Bethlehem is making a difference to the lives of believers today across the world. They are practical examples of how Christ brings peace on earth, as the angels sang, ‘to those enjoying God’s favour’ – that is, to those who convert and believe.
In today’s world, in which so many have turned from faith, we see many sad consequences. Marriage, families and friends fragment. There is growing violence, road rage, hatred and unjust discrimination. Less people are willing to give of themselves as volunteers; so many suffering financial and other stresses.
Media focus more on problems than good news. And yet the many ways Christ is making a difference to the lives of millions across the globe today is very good news which we can overlook all too easily.
Let us celebrate all that Christ is doing in people’s lives this Christmas. Let us reflect upon our personal experiences of him today; knowing that we could always enjoy God’s favour even more by striving for ever greater personal conversion.
Let us spread the good news when opportunities of how Christ is making a difference in the lives of so many who have converted to him. Let us use opportunities as they arise in Christmas gatherings in our families; among our friends; at our places of work – whenever such opportunities arise. It is our calling to spread the good news.
As we ponder the difference Christ is making in the lives of believers today, may we all be filled with Christmas joy and blessings. A holy and happy Christmas to you all.
Most Rev Gerard J Holohan
Bishop of Bunbury