It is very easy to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas amid the tinsel, glitter, food and drink, and yet the realities of that first Christmas are all around us today and we don't have to look far to see them. Refugees in a strange land, homelessness, oppression, poverty, cold, hunger – all part of our world today. It would be easy and simplistic to say that nothing has changed, but it has: Jesus embraced our human condition in its entirety – born a refugee under an occupying power, born homeless and in poverty, cold and hungry. In so doing he brought us hope.
Christmas is rightly a time of celebration but its also a time of giving. We give presents, we share with others, we give our time, our food, our money, our goods, to help those in need in today's world. We open our hearts to others and in so doing open them to God as we do in prayer when we celebrate Mass at Christmas. In remembering the birth of the Christ child we hear his cry for those in need, not least in the land of his birth. I visited the Holy Land recently and saw at first hand a suffering people. I will pray for and with them at Mass this Christmas and for all at home.
In the darkest days of the year when we have a lot to worry about such as keeping warm, feeding our family, the effects of economic changes and Brexit, the true Light has come in our lives to give us real hope, not just wishful thinking. The Light of the world shows us the way out of the gloomy low point of the seasons to a brighter future ahead. It is our belief that the child born in the manger will guide us and support us – that makes all the festivities worthwhile.
Let us make the song of the angels our own: "Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to people of goodwill."
Listen to Archbishop Malcolm's Christmas message.