Tag Archives: Christmas

Midnight Mass 2017 Homily – Cardinal John Dew

Christmas 2017

Do you have a Christmas heart?

A few days ago, I prayed with a meditation which was written for people with Christmas hearts.  It said, “these are songs to be sung in today’s over commercialised world, they are to help people to remember WHO Christmas is.” Jesus Christ is not a written text or an abstract idea, Jesu sis a living person.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page a photograph of a life-sized Nativity scene in a supermarket at Petone.  I was astounded at the number of people who saw that Facebook post.  Thousands of people saw it, dozens of people commented on it. They made comments such as –

  • it’s good to remember WHAT Christmas is all about”,
  • “it’s time to think about WHAT we are celebrating”,
  • “it’s time to stop and think WHY we do all these things.

We could reflect on Christmas in terms of WHAT or WHY – but it is more important to reflect on WHO Christmas is.

In the very first homily Pope Benedict gave as Pope he said, “each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, to be surprised by the encounter with Christ.”

That means being surprised by WHO not a what or a why.  The WHO is Jesus – Jesus born at Nazareth.  We are surprised when we meet Jesus.  We meet, we encounter Christ tonight.

Pope Benedict also once said “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we meet Jesus, when we hear his words and try to live by those words our life is given a new horizon and a decisive direction.

It is usually easy to relate to babies – like all babies Jesus grew up. That means we don’t spend our life relating to the baby Jesus, we spend our lives listening to the adult Jesus who speaks to us, who lived, who died, who was crucified and rose again.

However, this night, this day is to remember when the mystery of God’s presence in our world began. St Paul, in his letter to Titus reminded us that God’s grace has been revealed, made known to us through Jesus born into our world.  God’s grace, God’s kindness has made salvation possible for the whole human race.  God’s grace did not make a WHAT or WHY known, God’s goodness and kindness made a person known, Jesus.  “Today a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

In one of his first Angelus messages after being elected Pope Francis was talking about the love of God.  He said “the one who sows love in our hearts is God.  But what is God’s love?  It’s not something vague, some generic feeling.  God’s love has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, love for God is shown to us in Jesus.” Do we know Jesus who has a name and a face?

My greatest wish and prayer for you, for each of us this Christmas, is that we will carry Christmas in our hearts, that we will carry Jesus in our hearts, and like God be kind to each other.

One of those of meditations which prompted me to reflect on Who Christmas is said

“more than anything else

I want to give you Christmas this year,

it’s a gift

an offer. 

You can take it,

if you like,

but I can’t really give it to you

like a wrapped-up package,

it’s deeper than that.

It is warmer, brighter, lighter,

it is more personal. 

Christmas is more challenging

than a wrapped-up package

it is an offer,

it is a mystery,

it is birth,

it is hope,

it is Christmas

and God can never be born enough.”

God can never be born enough in our world….you and I bring Jesus to life.

God could be born a thousand thousand times in Bethlehem but if he is not born in our hearts it would all be a waste of time.

Christmas is about who came to live in our world, about who continues to come and be born in our hearts.

“Today a Saviour has been born to you he is Christ the Lord.”

 

The Cathedral Connection Christmas 2017 & January 2018

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The piece that brings us peace

In the waiting area at Wellington’s cancer clinic is a large jigsaw puzzle. Pieces are put in place throughout the day as people either await appointments or those they’ve accompanied to the clinic. Sharing responsibility for the puzzle is more than a way of passing the time: the activity quietly links those who share the uncertainty and anxiety that illness brings.

Piecing together any puzzle on your own can be frustrating and is often impossible.  We need help for most things and especially when it comes to meaning. What’s life all about?  Where is my own life going – and why?

For Christians, Christmas offers the last piece of the puzzle. The gift of God in Jesus is an exact fit, presenting us with the whole picture. I have come that you may have life in its fullness, Jesus tells us. Holding that to be true, is key to an understanding of life, providing a context for the uncertainties and anxieties that are bound to confront us.

God loved the world so much that help could be delayed no longer. The coming of Jesus, clothed with humanity and born as we are born, reveals a God opening a path to perfection, made easy with the balm of mercy and the tenderness of a parent’s love. His message that we should love one another as he has loved us gives us a reason to bond together in mutual trust and service. It is in this “revelation” that we find all the meaning we will ever need.

Greetings and blessings to all who come to celebrate the Christmas festival. In this mystery of “God-with-us” you will find the piece that fits exactly the space in your heart or the gap in your life. It is the gift of Jesus, his peace, that we instinctively long for and which he promises will last for ever.

Fr James Lyons            Fiona Rammell
Parish Priest                 Lay Pastoral Leader

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 24 December 2017

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Christmas (by John Betjeman)

 No love that in a family dwells

No caroling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells

Can with this single Truth compare-

That God was man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine

 

On behalf of the priests and staff in the Wellington Central Pastoral area, I wish you all a happy, holy and safe Christmas.

Fr Ron

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 3 December 2017

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ANNOUNCING ADVENT AND …

As the season of Advent opens, announcing a new year on the Christian calendar, I have two announcements that impact on our Cathedral Parish.

The first is that Fiona Rammell, our Lay Pastoral Leader since June, will not be renewing her contract at the end of January.  Fiona’s family circumstances have guided her decision, one that I heard and accepted with considerable sadness.  In just a few months Fiona has endeared herself to many, and has shown her ability in leadership roles involving liturgy, pastoral action and education.  She was part of the parish representation at the Archdiocesan Synod and has greatly supported my own pastoral responsibilities.

The second concerns my own “future planning”.  Before learning of Fiona’s situation, I asked Cardinal John if I could be relieved of responsibility as Parish Priest.  I have noticed my energy levels slipping and have learned that next year I will need another hip replacement.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate and I now avoid night driving.  Not a recipe for effective pastoral leadership.

The outcome is that I will stay on in “Sacramental Ministry”, relinquishing my role in day-to-day pastoral planning and activity.  Another priest, though not in residence, will be appointed as Administrator of the Cathedral, and it is expected another Lay Pastoral Leader will replace Fiona.

However, appointing and introducing a new LPL cannot be a simple process and I expect an inevitable delay for my “movement”.  This will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it is important to share this information now to avoid rumour and speculation.  Please remember Fiona and myself in your prayers as we each make personal adjustments in our unique vocations.  And pray also that others will respond to the need to ensure strong, faithful leadership within our faith communities.

Fr James

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Christmas Midnight Mass 2016 – Homily given by Cardinal John Dew

Christmas Homily 2016.

The Year of Mercy finished five weeks ago, but in a way it just started – or – we could say that the presence of MERCY in our world started with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, when God in a human body touched our lives.

Pope Francis wrote “Mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” Over a year ago he said “How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God,”

We say that at Christmas too, we send out messages of blessings and peace, wishing others joy and happiness, we are really saying that we want them to experience the goodness and tenderness of God.  Our Christmas messages are similar to the words of Pope Francis,. “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.”

God’s presence to us, God’s mercy for us began with Mary. She made a space for God in her life. For the nine months she carried him in her womb, beneath her heart was the beating, echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God.

God’s heartbeat did not echo under Mary’s heart only…..the heartbeat of God, the echoing, resounding, thrumming love of God …..beats in us too!!

We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to perform or produce, all we are asked to do is be a place for God, to make a place for God in our hearts, in our lives. The echoing , thrumming love of God beats in us too.

God’s presence in our world took shape in the child born of Mary. The long awaited promise of God to be with us is became a fact. That promise was complemented by another promise of Jesus “And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.”

Each Advent we prepare for the promise of Emmanuel: ‘God is with us’ and ‘I will be with you always, to the end of time’.  Christmas is all about God’s breathtaking promise of faithfulness to us, a promise realised in the birth of the baby “Emmanuel.”  At Christmas we renew our own relationship with God and think of God’s  faithful relationship with us. Then countless times throughout the year we allow God to take shape in us again and we renew the fact that God is with us as We live the goodness and tenderness of God.

Each year we learn that life is a very generous giver. In our prayer and through our love we re-discover the echoing beating, love of God’s heartbeat within us.  Welcome those moments in the year ahead, grasp them, and as you do so touch the angel’s hand that brings them to you. As you touch the angel’s hand, God will touch you……..

When there are things that seem like a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, the angel’s hand is still there, God is still with you. The gift and the wonder of God’s presence, is there.

Our joys, too, are gifts from God.

Pause to listen to the thrumming, echoing love of God’s heartbeat beating in our hearts and God’s presence becomes ever clearer.  We are able to claim that God is with us, because of the birth of Jesus. That presence gives us courage, courage to live each day in the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending our way to God and supporting each other as we go.

The story of today is so familiar and yet it is new every Christmas. If a child can look with wonder at the baby in a manger and find something awesome and mysterious, then we too, no matter our age, can learn something from every telling of the Christmas story.

A child may have tears of joy ….those tears of joy can be ours too when we ponder the crib and the Christ child and are reminded  that the  presence of the baby brings us the grace of God becoming human. The act of God becoming man in a humble, all-too-human way can give us all hope in the rebirth of goodwill and peace. The rebirth of good-will and peace happens when we act as Jesus acted, speak as Jesus spoke, love as he loved.  It is possible for us to do this because of the echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God’s heartbeat beating with in us – take time to listen to it…..

We have walked in darkness and now have seen a great light. We can sing a new song, be glad and rejoice, because the grace of God beats in our hearts. That grace of God helps us learn to live in peace and kindness, in honesty, in forgiveness and mercy each and every day.

We take this Christmas story and the good news of great joy into our hearts and listen to God’s heartbeat within.  We hold this simple story in our hearts throughout the year, know we will make a difference because God’s  heart, is already beating, is already reverberating deep within us.