Christmas baby God shows us who we really are, says Archbishop

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP places a sculpture of Jesus as a baby in the Manger at Midnight Mass for Christmas in St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

In the encounter with God who became a baby for us we discover our own true identity, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP told Christmas Mass attenders on Christmas morning.

Thousands flocked to St Mary’s Cathedral for the traditional Christmas Midnight Mass on Tuesday night and solemn Mass at 10.30 the following morning, leaving standing room-only for many Mass attenders.

At both, traditional Christmas carols celebrating the birth of Christ 2000 years ago and lead by St Mary’s Choir reverberated throughout the cathedral.

One of thousands who attended Christmas Masses at St Mary’s Cathedral: a woman prays at Midnight Mass. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“So, who are we?” the Archbishop asked Christmas morning Mass attenders.

We see who we are in God becoming a baby

“Each one here is an image of God. But unlike God, we are far from perfect. We are sinful mortals …

“Yet at Christmas we recall the Word made flesh, God made baby for our sake. The encounter with this man-God, Jesus, makes us Christians. It incorporates us into the Church, a community of word, sacrament and service, made up of people who share our struggles and ideals.

A girl attending Christmas Midnight Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral lights a candle. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Faith always faces challenges

On an occasion which is a major Christian celebration, Archbishop Fisher referred only in passing to the numerous challenges Christians face today. But by being at Mass in the Cathedral participants were showing that their faith is the first priority in their lives, he said.

“Forces threaten our identity and even our existence from the first moment of conception. Some seek to marginalize Christian identity in particular. But your presence here today speaks volumes,” he said.

Together with fellow clergy and watched by thousands, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP venerates the figure representing the infant Christ with incense. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Our faith changes us

“It says that our core identity as Christians graces us to be, not just better believers, but better friends and lovers, children and parents, citizens and colleagues. It purifies, moderates and integrates all the rest. It means being faithful and prayerful, grateful and kind, honest and forgiving are at the core of who we are.

“More and more we say with Paul “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” No other self-concept so completely serves our flourishing and fulfillment.

Clergy process into St Mary’s Cathedral for the commencement of Christmas Midnight Mass. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Discover the Christ child

By being present around the crib Christians discover their true identity, he said.

“Christmas is not just for Him: it is so we can be Christ-ened, Christ-massed. Jesus shares with us an exciting and challenging identity, founded upon the creative and loving will of God rather than the contingencies of fortune or our limited choices.

“Today He lends us that identity, so that our own infancy narratives (and adult ones too) are charged with meaning and purpose, our particular love-songs sung with joy and fervour, our unique selves enlarged and enriched.

“Today we participate in the greatest story ever told, the greatest hymn ever carolled, the very Self of the One who is, and was, and will be for ever. Amen!”

Huge numbers turned out for Christmas services at St Mary’s Cathedral, either at midnight or on Wednesday morning. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

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