2012 Christmas Message - Why Bother With Christmas?
We have been blessed in Australia to be taking part in the Year of Grace.

Every year is a Year of Grace, just as every day and all in it is Grace - gift of God.
The Australian Bishops have set aside this year though from Pentecost 2012 - Pentecost 2013 as a year to focus on the greatest Grace, the greatest gift of God to us, namely, his only Son Jesus Christ.Many of us have prayed daily, the beautiful National Prayer. We pray that each day we may €œStart afresh from Christ€.We have prayed that we will focus more and more on Jesus, or to put it so much more beautifully in the words of Pope John Paul II, that we will €œContemplate the face of Christ€. You cannot do this day after day without, as the prayer says, €œexperiencing a new wave of Grace€ and without €œthe light of Christ burning more brightly in our lives€.

It can be like Christmas everyday then - or at least quite often. Why then bother about Christmas?

Well Christmas is an extra special time of Grace. As I said, the greatest Grace or gift of God was Jesus - God€™s own Son in the flesh.

Christmas isn€™t just a time of remembering this great event. It is a time when Jesus is born again - more deeply, more profoundly in us. Each Christmas Jesus becomes more and more part of us, so that we can say as St Paul said €œI live now, not I, but Christ lives in me€. Gal 2:19

Each Christmas then, through God€™s Grace, I more and more see with the eyes of Christ, hear with the ears of Christ, speak with the lips of Christ and love with the heart of Christ.

As we celebrate the Birth of Christ, this once off marvellous event is made present, and Christ (allowing for our openness) can affect us as powerfully as he did the people of his time.

There is another reason why Christmas is so important and powerful.  God€™s Son, in his divinity, was connected intimately to the world since the beginning of creation.  When He took flesh he was able to connect to everybody and everything also in his humanity.

As a result when we are looking at and admiring nature and any of its beautiful manifestations - we see Jesus.

It is because of Christmas, that now we see and meet Jesus in each other and in every human being.

Because of the Incarnation we now meet and are affected by Jesus in and through the Gospel and the Word of God.

Because of Christmas we are now able to have Jesus in the unspeakable gift of the Eucharist. Because God€™s Son appeared in human form, he now can come among us in the form of bread and wine.  

Because of the Incarnation Jesus is also in our crosses. When Jesus took flesh he embraced the joys and sorrows of human life and of course suffering and death. He embraced not only his own but ours as well. Where the cross is in our lives - in sorrow, sickness, grief or death, Jesus truly is.

Yes Jesus is present among us now and in so many ways and it is due to Christmas - his coming into the world as a human being.

May each of us this year experience Christ more deeply as we celebrate this great Feast,  and may we enjoy him in the family and friends and people with whom we celebrate it.  +Bishop Justin