Show forgiveness and reach out to others
Christmas this year comes against the backdrop of a very unique and welcome announcement by Pope Francis, the Year of Mercy which began in Rome on December 8.
The Year of Mercy is rooted in the obvious truth of life - we need forgiveness for the times we have got it wrong and we are asked to show forgiveness to others who have wronged us.
Such forgiveness and mercy is found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whose birth in Bethelehem we are about to celebrate in the coming days. The child Jesus points us towards the infinite loving mercy of God the Father, the source of all forgiveness and kindness.
Drawing on the Gospel of Luke, Pope Francis asks us to consider closely the call to be "Merciful like the Father." Not only are we invited to have our own lives healed by both God Himself and those we have wronged, we are asked to follow the example of Christ by offering mercy to others by accepting an apology they may wish to make.
This Christmas season, may we be blessed with the grace to begin Christian life afresh:
- We can come and avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in our local churches.
- We can offer help to charitable groups that reach out to those in need at home and abroad.
- Perhaps it's time to reconnect with a family member, neighbour or friend with whom we have lost contact or with whom there was a dispute that should be sorted.
- Many will face the Christmas table grieving a loved one or on their own. A call makes a great difference. Perhaps there's room for one other at our own table.
Christmas is a time of great mystery and generosity, the season of goodwill and cheer.
May the infinite love of God made visible in the child Jesus touch us all this Christmas. And may we all enter 2016 more aware of the closeness of our God and of His desire that we receive and show greater mercy to one another in the year ahead.
Bishop of Ferns