Christmas Message from Bishop Patrick McKinney

"I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful, joyful and reflective Christmas Season" Bishop Patrick McKinney

Friday, December 16, 2022

I wish all readers of our diocesan E-news a very peaceful, joyful and reflective Christmas! I really do! The relentless commercial build up to Christmas in the shops and online, against the harsh financial challenges facing everyone this year, began many months ago. I feel sure that, by the time Christmas Day arrives this year, there will be many people who will be left feeling exhausted and facing debts. I pray that will not be true of you in these very challenging times.

The truth is that we all need a little time over Christmas, time to reflect quietly and gratefully upon this wonderful Feast, before we’re all expected to leave Christmas behind and move on with our lives. Christmas is an invitation to reflect with Christ Jesus upon the past year, our joys and sorrows, our blessings and challenges. It’s a grace-filled time to seek the guidance of, and to listen carefully to, the Holy Spirit of God at work within our hearts. God speaks to us at all times, but with particular power during the Season of Christmas when we celebrate and thank God for His gift to us of His son, Jesus, the Word of God made flesh: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.’ (Matthew 17:5) To listen, to be open and responsive to Jesus, requires a little effort on our part. It calls for attentiveness and some silence; not just external silence but the more important inner silence. I would encourage you to look upon Christmas 2022 as an invitation to create a small zone of silence within yourself where the voice of God, a ‘still small voice’ (I Kings19:13) can be heard.

The celebration of the birth of Jesus, Our Lord and Master, the One whom we try to serve in our daily lives and who is the Saviour of the world, cannot be disposed of in a single day! This is why the Church gives us Christmastide, a time which continues up to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday following the Feast of the Epiphany. It’s why people used to speak of the ’twelve days of Christmas’ up to the Epiphany, and used to celebrate them as such. This Christmas is a good time to do so again and to explore the variety and richness of these days. For example, the Feasts of St Stephen and the Holy Innocents introduce the notion of martyrdom into our Christmas celebrations. We’re not allowed to linger too long at the crib before we are reminded that we are called to follow Christ in our daily lives, which so often includes misunderstanding, opposition, and even persecution and martyrdom for some Christians in parts of our world. The Feast of St John the beloved disciple, in the middle of these Feasts, reminds us also of the heart-to- heart relationship that Christ is always inviting us into; to share with Him what’s on our hearts and to draw ever closer to the abundant love He has in His heart for each of us. It is that intimate relationship that will enable us to put our faith into action this Christmastide by sharing God’s love with those around us, particularly those who may be struggling most, in practical actions of love, kindness and care. I am deeply heartened by the many parish and school initiatives of ‘warm spaces’ foodbanks, clothing recycling, etc., in response to the cost of living crisis. We know we cannot truly love God, made flesh in Jesus, if we are not showing love for our neighbour.  

I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful, joyful and reflective Christmas Season,


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