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Christmas Message: Bishop Neil Scantlebury

Christmas Message: Bishop Neil Scantlebury
Roman Catholic Bishop Neil Scantlebury. (GP)

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Christmas Message by Roman Catholic Bishop Neil Scantlebury

There is a lot of pressure to spend money because ‘it’s Christmas’. We take loans, ‘max out’ credit cards, spend money we don’t have in the name of Christmas.

But if we remember how God chose to be born into the world that He created, then surely spending money is not the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas is less about buying stuff and more about spending ourselves for love of God and one another. Fully human yes, but the Christ Child was also Baby God. God put all of Himself into the gift of Baby Jesus for love of us. That’s what really happened at Christmas.

So, what comes next? The right response is to make a gift of ourselves to God and to others, especially to those on the fringes; to make it a priority to bring joy to the ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters, remembering that the poor shepherds were chosen to receive the glorious news first. That was priceless!

The first Christmas also reveals to us the freely available riches of hospitality and neighbourliness. Humble though it was, Mary and Joseph must have been grateful to have a sheltered and private birthplace for Jesus in the end. Someone offered them their only available space; in other words, they offered all they had in a simple act of kindness.

That first Christmas also speaks of the riches of relationship and friendship. Mary and Joseph were open to those who made a ‘pilgrimage’ to see Jesus. Although they were strangers in the night, some even from foreign lands, they received a welcome. Another reminder of what Christmas is about.

As we prepare to begin the year 2023, we would do well to remember these lessons of the first Christmas all through the year. Love has no season. It can be available every day, if you allow it.

A blessed Christmas and New Year to you and your families, and to our nation!