In a certain way, suffering can be found at the very heart of the first Christmas. God is born in the simple surrounding of a Grotto. The young family will have to run away to avoid those seeking to track down the Child, and Christ himself will triumph by death on a cross.
Throughout His life, His mother’s heart will be broken. There will be no limits, and rightly so, to our celebration of God becoming man to save us since this is the centre of History and of our future.
Unfortunately our celebration will also be marred by contradiction.
Indeed, we live in a world where meanness and kindness overlap. Kindness seems to become more and more discreet as meanness takes over. Reality television and social networking are leading us to believe that it’s cool to be mean.
Last November, Prince Edward Island hosted the world’s largest anti-meanness conference, the Stop Cyber Bullying Youth Summit. Meanness is not only among the youth, it can take on the face of various forms of physical violence, domestic or street violence to senseless wars.
Meanness can also lead to relational violence where the weapon is gossiping, peer exclusion, silent treatment, lack of respect for one’s dignity.
This year, let us allow Christmas to be the triumph of kindness over meanness. Let Christmas give us a new heart, a new empathy to build a kinder and gentler world over the meanness inside and around us.
Thus, we will be able to better respond to the call of Pope Francis. He is challenging us to honestly and boldly open our lives to Christ to experience the Joy of the Gospel. Christ will teach us not only to give, but to be the gift.
The gift of healing for those who hurt, the gift of hope for those who despair, the gift of a faith companion for seekers of meaning, the gift of friendship for the lonely.
The gift of being a People for everyone, a Parish where all feel they belong, especially the poor and those distanced from Church.
The Child born to us on Christmas Day is Messiah, Lord and Saviour. But like any other child, He makes us kinder. He awakens in our hearts humility. Through Him, God is born to us so we can be born to God. This new birth invites us to allow kindness to be our inspiration every day in the coming New Year.
A Blessed Christmas to all.
Bishop, Roman Catholic
Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie