Two thousand and thirteen years ago a child was born into the world, a child whose naked need for his mother's breast, for his father's loving shade, rendered all the more awesome the power he held within him to teach humankind how to live.
"A baby small is come to teach." As his mother holds him in her arms, he holds in his beating heart a message of love that holds within it the gift of wisdom, wisdom to set free the minds, hearts and imaginations of every woman and man. A gift of wisdom held within the embrace of a mother's arms and a father's shade. What a holding was there on that first Christmas!
A friend of mine thought she had lost Christmas one year. She and her husband were living and working in East Africa when the child they were expecting decided to begin her launch into the world very early on Christmas morning. In the wake of unmistakable signs of their daughter's decision lay an endless nightmare drive through unfamiliar terrain, very different from the rolling landscape of my friend's native County Derry. They arrived at last at a primitive hospital, which was deserted by all save one nurse. There followed a difficult birth and a fragile, vulnerable new life. And my friend in her weariness thought sadly of the tinsel gathering dust back in their bungalow; of the presents lying unopened; the food mouldering; Christmas fading: the wasting of all her efforts to reproduce the warm familiarity of an Irish Christmas here in the frighteningly beautiful East African landscape.
Six months later, holding her precious daughter (who had miraculously survived a very dangerous infancy) my friend found herself thinking about that lost Christmas. She was thinking of the decimation of all her careful plans, when out of the clear blue African sky she experienced a joyful realisation: she had not lost Christmas six months before - rather she had found Christmas. She had, in fact, touched the very heart of Christmas because what is at the heart of Christmas is as human as it is divine. What was at the human heart of that first Christmas was pain, fear, confusion, unfamiliar surroundings, birth, blood and joy. It was when God was revealed, not as remote and coldly judgemental of human frailty, but truly as a God willing to share our humanness. There were so many ways that God could have chosen to manifest his face to the world. He chose to share and thereby affirm our humanness. To know that is to enter the stable and assist at the birth of the God of love - as my friend had done. And now when she looks into the beautiful face of her gloriously alive daughter, all grown up and fearlessly encountering the world, she remembers that sunlit day in East Africa when she found the Christmas she thought she had lost.
"A baby small is come to teach." As his mother holds him in her arms, he holds in his beating heart a message of love that holds within it the gift of wisdom, wisdom to set free the minds, hearts and imaginations of every woman and man.
9th October 2018 Shifting Perspectives
19th June 2018 Thank God I was wrong
16th May 2018 "Today is a new dawn, new, clean and fresh - and so are you, my dear! Don't worry. All is well."
26th March 2018 The Long Winter
7th March 2018 The Gift of Tears
19th January 2018 An Understanding of Kindness
14th December 2017 Do You See This Woman?
17th October 2017 We Are All One with You
7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
20th April 2009 JESUS RISES FROM THE DEAD
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII