A Catholic Monthly Magazine

God Present Among Us

By Fr Patrick Brophy SM

Normally writing the editorial Focus for the Marist Messenger is difficult. One difficulty is that it is written a couple of months in advance with the focus clearly on something relevant to the month. Additionally, for this combined issue, this Focus must cover the two months of December – January. This is my first for a combined issue. Adding to these complications, I’m writing from Rome, where I am attending an international meeting for the finances of the Society of Mary General Administration. After that, I’ll stay on and act as a translator for the Council of the SM. This Council occurs normally on the fourth year after a General Chapter of the congregation. You may know that the General Chapter is the meeting of delegates from the global Society. Its purpose is to give direction to the Society for the next 8 years and to elect the Superior General and assistants. The Council of the Society, on the other hand, takes place midway between Chapters to review and renew the progress of these decisions. On this occasion, the Council has been delayed a year, due to Covid.
Journeys are generally good for opening the mind and presenting afresh realities that can become somewhat narrowed or obscured. I was struck by the map on the small screen in the aircraft that transported us from Singapore to Rome. We flew over what must have been a quarter of the globe. The display showed us nearby cities – Mumbai, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Kandahar, Afghanistan, Tehran, Iran, Istanbul, Turkey, and skirting many, many more nations of the Middle East and the Balkans. I was struck by how much of the globe I knew very little about, how much of the world doesn’t really impinge on our consciousness or that of our western society – and perhaps even on the consciousness of the Church. This part of the globe is not really one in which the Christian message has had great influence – which is not say that the Church doesn’t exist there.
What struck me, thinking of these places and of what we are celebrating in this month of December, was that the Son of God was born for us and for them. Christmas is a global celebration – though perhaps often due to the more commercial aspects of the ‘holiday’ as it is termed in some places. And certainly, this aspect needs re-evangelisation to recapture the deeper message of the holy day.

The editor and staff of the Marist Messenger wish all our subscribers and readers a joyful and holy Christmas and every blessing for a Happy New Year.

The editor and staff of the Marist Messenger wish all our subscribers and readers a joyful and holy Christmas and every blessing for a Happy New Year.

We tend to focus on the birth of the Saviour, and rightly so. It is a celebration of the Salvation that His coming brings to us. This celebration is amplified in that the Saviour comes to us as a baby. Who cannot rejoice at the sight of a newborn baby? And in the back of our minds is the whole redemptive story – with it’s tragic working out through suffering and its glorious overcoming of that suffering and evil.
It might be good to also consider the Incarnation at this time. God made flesh – flesh like ours, born of a woman. It says a lot about God’s regard, God’s love for His creatures and His creation; that the Divine wants to be among us. We celebrate God’s presence among us, on earth, in history. This is something we share with all humanity, firstly that God found us worthy of being among, worthy of his presence and that God remains with us still.
Certainly, Christmas is a beginning of salvation history. Christmas is a birth par excellence, but it is much more. It is the sign of the reality of God’s unfathomable love for his creation. A sign of God’s love for his creatures, all of them, including the people of Mumbai, Karachi, Kandahar, Tehran, Istanbul, and all those others who may not celebrate Christmas as we do.
This incarnate presence doesn’t finish as Christmastide finishes. In New Zealand and other southern hemisphere countries this presence continues through a long, golden (hopefully) summer. It continues onwards into the future and into every nook and cranny of our world. Let’s celebrate the divine birth, the incarnation of God among his people, and God’s ongoing loving presence in all his beloved people. Merry Christmas to you all!

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