2019 Christmas Message
“The Light of Christmas scatters the darkness"

In 1990, I had the opportunity for a 3-month sabbatical at Tantur Ecumenical Institute near Bethlehem.  At one time, I was having coffee next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. A young Palestinian waiter, who was serving us, came up to me with brochures of Sydney in Australia. He had recognised my Australian accent and asked questions about life in Australia. He was a Palestinian Christian.  As we approach Christmas in 2019, I have often wondered what happened to that young man who spoke fluent English, and who had such hopes and aspirations for a better way of life.

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem seemed very insignificant, yet it was the beginning of answering the questions of people like the shepherds and the visitors who came from the East as they followed the Star. Even for Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus was a moment for them to ponder about what their child would turn out to be!

As I remember my own encounter in the Bethlehem Cafe in 1990, it came to me just how much I had stereotyped all Palestinians and even Jewish people up until that time. I realised that they too, do have the same hopes and aspirations for a better life as we do here in Geraldton and throughout the wider diocese of Geraldton.

The impact and influence of the birth of Jesus was revealed throughout his short life 2,000 years ago. This still happens today where we look not just to ourselves, but to others, to understand the impact of the message of Christ. One clear message coming from the teaching and witness of Jesus was not defining people by their race, colour or religious belief, or by the actions of a few who would do harm to others.  This teaching is a challenge and often difficult to accept. It can happen when people might have an experience that has affected them and family and friends. Despite our faith, our deep beliefs and best of intentions, we can define a group of people by the actions of a few!

Christmas is a gift from God to us as Christians, because the light of Christmas does scatter the darkness. John ‘s Gospel on Christmas morning says…” a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower” has come amongst us. Jesus the Light has the power to take us beyond our own understandings and shed new light on other people, their culture and traditions.

Our Christian faith can enable our local communities to be open to the hopes and aspirations of people who have come from other places or have been here with their culture and traditions for a millennia.  This Christmas let us turn towards the life-giving compassion of Jesus Christ, who offers blessings and joys to you, your families, and those who are seeking and searching for meaning in their lives. In this way we move beyond those narrow expectations and definitions often imposed on people through ignorance    and fear.

Saint Paul says in the first reading on Christmas morning to Titus, Jesus came amongst us…” for no reason except his own compassion to save us”.  The message of Christmas is eternal and offered to all.  

May God’s blessings be given to you, your family and friends this Christmas, and may He bless all your hopes and aspirations for 2020.