Happy Christmas from Bishop Vincent Long and the Diocese of Parramatta
Blessings and prayers to each of you as we prepare for the coming of Jesus at this Christmas.
In this holy season, we enter into a mystery, the mystery of the God of all creation, coming not in overwhelming display of power, but in vulnerability.
When we kneel before the Christ child, we kneel before the mystery of the master of the universe becoming small and vulnerable for our sake.
Most Australians are fortunate to live in peace. But that good fortune calls us to remember and pray for those who don’t share in it. We have to ask what Christmas will be like for the people of Syria. There are conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Many Christian communities in the Middle East – the oldest in the world – have been uprooted and scattered. These are only a few of the terrible acts of cruelty we hear of around the globe.
And though life in Australia is peaceful for the most part, there are still many in our midst who experience injustice and inequality, often not of their own making: people left behind by our economy; Indigenous Australians, who suffer disease, poverty and incarceration at far higher rates than the general population; and refugees and asylum seekers, warehoused offshore and in Australia who continue to live with fear, violence, isolation and mental illness. I just returned from a trip to Papua New Guinea where I witnessed their pain and suffering first hand. We must do all we can to influence our government policy towards the marginalised, so that it reflects the nation we desire it to be.
This year, the drought and bushfires have caused much suffering to our fellow citizens, especially our farmers. As we stand in solidarity with them and support one another in adversity, let us also commit ourselves to the care of God’s creation.
So as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, let us remember that he came on a mission of love for all of us but especially for the lost and broken.
Like Mary and Joseph who contemplated Christ born homeless and rejected, we can learn to recognise the same Christ who does not find welcome and hospitality on our shores, the same Christ who does not find a room in people’s hearts. We cannot worship the Christ child in truth without embracing the most vulnerable.
May this Christmas bring you all comfort, joy and peace, and inspire us all to be the love of Jesus to every person.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta