Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth
For when you look around the world at the moment, there seems to be such a lot of unrest and unhappiness.
Your heart goes out to those families who lost children, teachers and friends in the terrible school shooting in Pakistan. Across the Middle East, there is violence and unspeakable cruelty, perpetrated (blasphemously) in God’s name.
Then there’s the threat of worsening climate change and the apparent failure of the recent convention in Lima to tackle carbon emissions. In Europe we have warfare in the Ukraine not to mention the economic uncertainties of our time.
And in Britain, including in Portsmouth, many families now live in poverty and hunger and so turn to charities and food banks for help and support. Here we are, about to enter 2015, and yet much of humanity appears to be facing misery and suffering. What does the message of Christmas mean in the face of all that?
We all want to be happy and the message of Christmas is that whether we recognise it or not, deny it or ignore it, it is really Jesus Christ whom we are longing for when we dream of happiness.
Born in poverty in a stable, a member of a human family and the Jewish society of the time, He is truly God made visible, and He came exactly in order to save us from all that has gone wrong and is going wrong, and to give us energy (the ‘grace’) to work towards a new world and a better way of living.
In him, we find forgiveness of our sins, real help to carry the cross of sickness and suffering, and life after death.
Indeed, Jesus is the answer to all the ancient questions about the meaning of life – yours and mine too.
I think this is a message of great joy. It is a sermon that transforms our lives. Yes, the world does face many problems and enormous challenges. But the good news of Christmas is that ‘Emmanuel’ has come: God is with us. I wish you, all your families and friends, a most blessed and joyful Christmas!