Archbishop's Christmas message
While you don't have to be a Christian to believe that love is crucial to human happiness, you cannot be a Christian without love. St John tells us that the person “who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1Jn 4:8).
Christmas is a celebration of this Godly love. We ponder the mystery of God sending his only son to us, born in a cave in Bethlehem, to show us the way of love. Suffering is real, even in our lucky country. The love we receive from others when we are suffering makes all the difference. Without love, suffering is much worse.
This is one reason why Christmas is a family celebration; a time to give thanks and to celebrate what most of us enjoy with our parents, children, grandchildren and brothers and sisters. It is also why we remember those who are suffering: not just the poor, the hungry, the sick, those afraid, and those who are dying, but especially those who are alone, separated or lonely, those caught up in family strife.
May the Christ child bring them consolation.
I would encourage people this year to use the quiet time that follows Christmas to reflect on how well we love others; our family and friends first of all, but also the forgotten people around us and the millions overseas caught up in wars and violence. Our best wishes go, in particular, to our soldiers and sailors on active service.
We need not fear the demands from this sort of reflection. The funny thing about love is that the more you give, the more you find you are able to give. Some people think that giving and being there for others makes us poorer – losers, as we say today. In fact, it makes us rich, richer than the selfish can imagine. In this, Jesus, grown to manhood, is the great exemplar.
My prayer and wish this Christmas is that peace of heart permeates ever more widely in our community, the fruit of love spread by service. A happy Christmas to all!