We celebrate Christmas 2020 in the midst of the most amazing circumstances. Due to the situation on the Northern Beaches resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas Masses at St Kieran’s and St Cecilia’s have been cancelled, also Masses on Sunday 27 December, Feast of the Holy Family, and all other public Masses until further notice.
We had a similar experience in Holy Week and Easter this year and the months of disruption to our family, work and school life are fresh in our minds. Hopefully this crisis will not last long but we should not underestimate its impact on people’s lives, especially during the Christmas Season with family gatherings and visits seriously limited.
Christmas and Family go together. This coming Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family and its closeness to Christmas sharpens our appreciation of our own families and the great Feast of Christ’s Birth. Wherever you find yourself in these days – at home with family or friends, spending time with those we love, contacting those close to us, or for so many confined to home - we hope that this Christmas will be filled with God’s special blessings of peace and that you will enjoy happiness and good health in the New Year.
Especially in difficult circumstances, we need to celebrate ‘God-with-us’, the God who wants to enjoy us, shown so beautifully in the gift of Jesus, his Word of love and joy. In Sermon 184, St Augustine exhorts us
Rejoice, you just (Psalm 33:1); it is the birthday of the Justifier. Rejoice, you who are weak and sick; it is the birthday of the Saviour, the Healer. Rejoice, captives; it is the birthday of the Redeemer. Rejoice, slaves; it is the birthday of the one who makes you lords. Rejoice, free people; it is the birthday of the one who makes you free. Rejoice, all Christians; it is the birthday of Christ…
Despite the trials of the past year, there are many blessings for which we give thanks. In our families, many carry heavy burdens, religious, personal and social, yet this time is where God wants us - in this country and this Church - striving to live and model the Christian life for one another. This is our time, the best time!
The year 2020 may have raised new questions for us, but all of us are part of Christ and without our presence together, we are all the poorer.
May all of us go forward in our relationship with Christ and may the joy and communion shared in these days affirm us and help us to feel at home in this faith community.
May you enjoy God’s most special graces at Christmas and be blessed personally and in your family with the rich gift of life given us in Jesus.
May you know the great heart of God in the gift of his Son at Christmas,
and may the joy of Christ’s birth fill your hearts with peace and thanksgiving!