Saturday, December 22, 2012

AUSTRALIA : CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM ARCHBISHOP OF BRISBANE



2012 Christmas Message from the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge
For the first time I speak to you as Archbishop of Brisbane in this
Christmas season.  It’s hot up here, and the Queensland heat tends to
melt away the dreamy carols that can sentimentalise the truth of
Christmas.  Here Down Under we dream not of a white Christmas but of a
cool Christmas with a breeze to relieve the humidity and heat of the day.
Christmas in our part of the world is bathed in light and warmth, hectic
and lazy all at the same time.
However, the truth of Christmas has nothing to do with vapid dreaming.
It has everything to do with what it means to be human and what it
means to say that Jesus remains a powerful living presence among us.
God takes flesh. We call this “Incarnation” - but it’s more than a word; it’s
an event, an experience, an encounter, a Person. The truth that we
celebrate at Christmas is that God – the source and destiny of all things –
has not remained some indistinct and distant deity, or a name we give to
a vague human instinct.  The real God has become enfleshed, in every
sense of that word, and lived among us. God has a face and a name –
Jesus.
If we want to know what God looks like, we look to Jesus. It’s as simple
as that. If we want to know what God wants us to be, we look to Jesus. I
don’t mean Jesus as some kind of role model.  We’ve got enough of
them; we don’t need another.  Our culture values choice, and that’s fine
when you’re looking for a bargain, but it won’t do when we’re searching
for what is true and real. The whole point of the Gospel is, in fact, that
God chooses us, and in choosing us the Father sends his Son, into a world
that is not yet ready – a world that can never be truly ready to receive
the real God. That’s why we talk of mangers and shepherds and stars –
because it’s a birth that was hoped for, but not prepared for; a birth that was dreamed of but not expected.  God didn’t send a representative, an
envoy or a go-between.  God sent his own Son; in that sense, God came
himself. And that’s more than anyone was prepared for or expected.
These days, life is lived at such a fast pace that we do more and more,
and yet are often left with the feeling that we achieve less and less. Our
lives are full, but we can feel empty. Perhaps the question is not why are
we on the run, but what are we running from? Are we parched because
we thirst for meaning but can find little that is meaningful? The seasons
of the Church are a doorway into the truth of things. The Incarnation of
Jesus Christ embodies the deepest reality of human existence; of life and
death; of the mystery and wonder of all creation; and that which we
silently and intuitively know by heart – we are not alone in the vast
darkness of the universe, and our lives have dignity and meaning because
we are made in the image and likeness of God who is our ultimate
destiny.
Our existence is not some mere chance by-product of the Big Bang and
the Dark Silence. Our existence, our conscious mind, our way of seeing,
and hearing and reflecting, our way of making sense of the world, and our
inherited wisdom reveal the reality of life. And the reality is this: We are
made to hear the voice of our first and greatest love – our Creator, the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is that Word of love – not in any
abstract or fanciful way. We are not speaking here about wishful thinking.
Jesus fleshes out the mystery of God, yesterday, today and always. Think
about it – the One through whom the whole universe was created, the
One who formed a rag-bag mob into the people of God, is the One who
comes among us an infant who grows into adult. The One who is eternal
takes flesh in the tender skin of a newborn child. The baby’s cry is the
yearning of the human heart seeking its beginning and end. It is the cry
of joy when the One whom we seek is found. And what do we find?  The very face of God dwelling among us, for Jesus is either here and now, or
nowhere and never.  He’s not just “once upon a time”.
So let’s look with fresh eyes at this mystery, this Christmas event. Let’s
unwrap the gift and contemplate the Giver.  Jesus Christ reveals to you
and to me and to every human being who we really are. There is no
greater gift than that. That’s the grace that we ponder in this Year of
Grace.
 
In these troubled times, I say:  Peace to you from the One born before all
time, yet born in time, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.  May the
coming of the Christ-child bathe you and your family in the light that
never fades, the light of hope. May the dawn of a new year be for you a
fresh start, and may the peace of Christmas rest upon you today and
always.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE

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