As we prepare our hearts in this Advent Season to celebrate Christmas, we pause to remember those for whom this Christmas will be difficult.
Here in Australia, we are very mindful of all those who have suffered in the recent bush fires and those in our rural communities living through one of the most devasting droughts of this era. Across our world we are mindful of all those who are left homeless through poverty; those living in refugee camps; the first nations peoples of the world seeking recognition and respect for their traditions and those working to address the many unjust circumstances that arise out of misuse of power. In such realities, we might be prompted to ask: “Where do we see the events of the Christmas story happening in our world today?”
The stable where Christ is born is to be found in the many refugee camps of the world. The shepherds represent the many women and men who work tirelessly to bring peace across our world. The innkeeper is like us when we can be so overwhelmed by the many calls on our time that we fail to hear the knock on the door of our hearts to be more compassionate and open to the needs of our world. We see the joy of Mary and Joseph as parents welcome their newborn child. Our hearts and minds are stretched by the many people who invite us to widen our tents like the wise men from the East. Each character within the story invites us to explore within ourselves what it means to be the hands and feet and heart of Christ in our world today. This Christmas, let us be attentive to those many places where the vision of the Christ Child is being born today in the generous self-giving of those whose lives are inspired by the story of the first Christmas. Let us celebrate the giftedness of each person we encounter on this Christmas day.
As we pray with those who are struggling in our world today let us be encouraged by these words of Isaiah 11:1 that:
So too on this Christmas day, we celebrate the many women and men who provide a word of hope or an action of love that bears fruit like the many fire-fighters in our country, or the groups organising Christmas packs for women in rural communities. In our world, we see and hear stories of love at the borders where women and men are seeking refugee; the encouragement given to the Indigenous communities at the Amazonian Synod; the voices of those seeking freedom from oppressive regimes and the simple acts of neighbourliness shared in so many ways. These stories are the Christmas story told once again.
Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj