2008 Christmas Message - "The End is Near!"
Over the past months we have heard much said about the economic climate€¦ We have ridden a roller coaster of ups and downs along the financial markets of the world.  It has reminded us all how closely linked all the nations of the world are.  What happens in America can cause a tsunami across the economic seas to far off nations.  With the economic meltdown comes fears of a worldwide recession.  We are told to tighten our belts and prepare for the worse that is to come€¦ the economic down turns will put an end to the good times€¦ jobs will be lost.  We have had it too good for too long and now we are going to reap what we have sown.. economic mismanagement.  Through all this we becgin to see, or are reminded, just how vulnerable our combat zones are.

Looking at the downturn, each one of us can gauge just how much our economic comfort contributes to the foundation of our lives and who we are.  We can ask how much of the '€œwho I am'€ as a person will change if I am suddenly forced to live a more frugal life.  For some, sadly, it will mean they lose their very source of income.

Thrpough our economic highs, we in the Western culture have put God at the back of the picture.  Caught up in our happiness we have forgotten our greatest benefactor.  Maybe the unfathomable materialism that has hijacked the spirit of Christmas will now become more practical as we rethink the value of our gifts and return to basics.  Maybe the downturn will give us greater opportunities to be present to one another, to serve one another and to love one another.

We can go even further. So much is being done through finances by countries and governments to being us out of the recession.  If we can fo it for one purpose, we can also do it for the poor of the world,

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the leader of the Catholic Church in the Honduras, recently visited the United Nations to speak.  He is the President of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican based organization for Catholic charities in 162 nations.  While he was there he learned of the $700 billion dollars that was being used by United States to prop up companies, and he made the following point.

'€œSeven hundred billion! Can you image that money, and only because people are not able to run their corporations in the right way.  How come it is always the money of the poor that is lost? How come the money of the rich is always saved?  I am not blaming or accusing; just putting the facts on the table!  When it comes to alleviating poverty, there are no resources.  But when it comes to saving the rich, there are always resources.'€

As we close off a liturgical year we hear much of the same themes of gloom'€¦ the end is nigh'€¦the Lord'€™s return is imminent!  Stay awake! Prepare yourselves! You may have to reap what you have sown, or failed to sow.  It all seems very fearful.  Just like the talk surrounding our economic doom.

In a more positive light, Christ is coming'€¦. We spend the four weeks of Advent preparing for this great event.  One day he will come back as he said he would, but for the time being we are recalling his coming.  We are pondering the great mystery of God'€™s beautiful gift to us.  We are examining the foundations of our lives and realigning those parts of our lives that have fallen out of step with Christ and His Teachings.  We are looking at the reasons '€˜why'€™ Christ came in the first place'€¦ for the love of us.  True peace and justice can only come by walking the WAY, living the TRUTH, and sharing his LIFE.

After the four weeks of Advent, and with our foundations strengthened by our prayerful preparation and meditations of Scripture, we can celebrate more deeply the birth of our Lord into the very centre of our lives on Christmas Day.  Then no matter what tragedies befall us, whether acroos the globe or privately, we can tap into the peace that the world cannot give; the peace that only Christ can give and sail confidently amid the turmoil with our eyes fixed on him.

In the readings of the 4th Sunday of Advent, we are encouraged by Paul to be happy at all times and to pray constantly.. and his prayer for you is my prayer for you this Christmas.

'€œMay the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body for the forthcoming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God has called you and he WILL NOT fail you.

Bishop Justin Bianchini
Bishop of Geraldton
December, 2008