Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Dec 2016
His Grace, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney has released his Christmas message for 2016, urging people of good will to not bow in the face of the world's evils but look to the birth of the Christ child who delivers hope, freedom and joy:
Hannah Arendt, one of the twentieth century's most famous political theorists, once explained that the greatest challenge to darkness, despair, and a world without hope is the spontaneity of a child's birth, which brings with it faith and hope, so much so that freedom was "guaranteed by each new birth."
The Christmas story is a story of just such a birth. In a small stable in Bethlehem a child was born to a poor young mother and her husband. This young couple had just made the exhausting journey from Nazareth, and found no room at the inn.
You might think such a small event could hardly have an effect on anyone but the child's parents. And yet the birth of this little child in a stable brought with it such hope, such freedom, such joy. Indeed, that birth in a lowly manger was seen as a threat to the tyranny of King Herod, so much so that he sought to have the child killed.
Sometimes it can seem like the Herods of this world may succeed in extinguishing the flame of faith and hope that comes with the birth of this child; as we witnessed terrorist incidents in so many countries this year, for example, or the persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East and elsewhere, we might be tempted to think that the horrors of this world will never end.
And yet, every year, we celebrate Christmas. In celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace over two thousand years ago, we say every year that we will not be afraid. In celebrating the Christmas story we are celebrating the hope that story brings, for peace in this world, and eternal peace in the next. Because of this, every year we look the sorrows of the world in the eye, and we say 'I will not bow.'
Christmas is a time for friendship, for love, for making amends, a time for looking forward to the new year, with its infinite possibilities for the future. At this time we recall the greatest gift ever given, the hope of eternal life, available for all to see in the form of a newborn babe, lying in a manger.
God bless you all, and may the Prince of Peace bring hope and joy to you all this Christmas!
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Archbishop of Sydney
For services at St Mary's Cathedral over the Christmas Season see here.
Watch the Christmas Masses (live streamed) from St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney: www.xt3.com/Christmas