Tag Archives: Christmas

SOMEDAY AT CHRISTMAS – A CELEBRATION OF HOPE

SOMEDAY AT CHRISTMAS – A CELEBRATION OF HOPE

HOMILY – 4 ADVENT [C] 2018

Radio cricket commentators talk a lot.  They have to.  There is no place for silence on radio; no pictures to fill any gaps.  Even so, the constant cricket talk got to me on Monday and I switched programmes.  I think I was meant to, because there was an interview with a Year 12 Papatoetoe High School student, Silika Isaia.  This very talented singer had been invited to perform a Christmas song and she chose a Stevie Wonder composition, Someday at Christmas.

Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
a world where people are free.

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found what life’s really worth
There’ll be peace on earth.

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where people are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmas time.
 
 Our first reading names the place where the promised One would be born: Bethlehem.  It’s the prophecy later quoted to Herod when he heard there were royal visitors looking for the new born King of the Jews.  It terrified him that he might have a rival.  Bethlehem was not a name that gave him hope.  Herod is that part of each of us that puts self on the top shelf.  Nothing and no one can get in the way.

The gospel gives us the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth – a picture of calm celebration, despite it being for them a time of deep uncertainty.  Mary is still grappling with the circumstances of her pregnancy; the hill country she travels through does not guarantee safety.  Yet her concern for her elder cousin, together with her dignity and faith, has Elizabeth proclaiming: Of all women you are the most blessed.  –  a proclamation of hope.

Someday at Christmas man will not have failed
Hate will be gone and love will prevail
There’ll be a new world that we can start
With hope in every heart.

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no tears
When all people are equal and none have fears
One shining moment, one prayer away
From our world today.

Is what we are yearning for – peace and togetherness – is it just a prayer away?  Then what’s stopping us?

Mary, Elizabeth and the others we meet in the Christmas story were very ordinary people, but they show a deep level of trust – and a willingness to accept what for the moment doesn’t make much sense – that impels them well beyond their individual talents.

The cricket was washed out, but Christmas stays through all weathers, giving us chance after chance.  There is wonder and hope in this most incredible story: the God of all creation becoming one of us!  Just as every birth rekindles hope in humanity, every Christmas tells us that the world is not lost, and neither are we.

Hold that hope.  Someday at Christmas…

The Cathedral Connection 23 December 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Displayed on the street front of a church not far from here, this poster reflects the growing concern among individuals and nations that all is not well with our world. Domestic violence and abuse of

trust, homelessness, mental illness, an alarming suicide rate, charges of people trafficking and slavery in our own country, reportedly taking New Zealand “to a new low”, present images of frightening instability.

Yet, each Christmas, we are offered an image of enormous hope. From within a rustic, weather-beaten and neglected shelter, scarcely suitable for animals let alone people, a mother gives birth and another child is born. It’s been said that every new-born shows God’s trust in the world. Why else would God continue to gift new life?

The Christmas stable is our starting point towards a future that recognises and welcomes life in all its forms, that respects the dignity of every person, especially the most vulnerable, and rejoices in the wonder, the grace and the beauty that shines around us, even when what we have or see appears to be of little value.

We each have the power to be “a stable influence” in life. Imagine the difference for good if we did just that! God’s trust would certainly be vindicated.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 2 December 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

On Jordan’s Bank

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, in which we begin our spiritual preparation for Christmas.  We will be invited in the next weeks to reflect and pray, and to give as we might to those in material need.

One of the features of the Advent Gospel readings is a focus on John the Baptist. He features in all four Gospels – the three ‘synoptic’ gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so-called because they are identifiably similar in much of their material – and the rather different Gospel of John.  In all the gospels he is presented as the forerunner of Jesus, a witness to what is to come. He is also the subject of that beautiful English hymn, ‘On Jordan’s Bank’.

Like the older prophets of Israel, John preached both warning and reconciliation. He warned his listeners that they were not to rely on their status as children of Abraham; that what we do and how we treat others is what matters, and is how we are to be reconciled with each other and with God.

When the people asked him ‘what should we do?’ his message was simple. Be honest with yourselves and change what needs changing.  Turn away from greed, selfishness and abusive relationships.  Share your goods with those in need, and live in peace with each other.  Then, reconciliation will begin.

Simple advice, but I don’t find it easy to follow. In reflecting on Luke’s account of John the Baptist I am reminded of Pope Francis writing this year in ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’ that the call to holiness is for all of us, where we are, in our ordinary lives. During Advent we might reflect on the ways in which our hearts need to change, and where we need to be reconciled.

Jim McAloon, chair, Parish Pastoral Council

The full newsletter can be viewed here.