Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Bishop of Raphoe, has issued his Christmas message for 2017 focussing on Christian Solidarity and the Family.
In his message, Bishop McGuckian said, ‘”The Word became flesh and lived among us” must be the sentence that encapsulates more powerfully than any other the shocking presumption of Christian faith. For non-believers who give the Christian claim any serious thought it has to seem at best ridiculous and at worst scandalous. It is indeed really shocking; the eternal God chose to become one of his own creatures and share our lot.
‘Since He took on human flesh then human flesh can never be looked on in the same way again. As human beings we all, without exception, have something in common with the Son of God. For that reason, all of our lives have infinite value. Because of Christmas it is simply not permissible to disdain any human life, my own or my neighbour’s. We all have a brother in common and he is the Son of God. We have a brother in common with the families who have suffered repossession of their house during this year, with the Rohingya people who have been driven from their homeland, with victims of crime and with criminals. We have a divine brother in common with the member of our own family from whom we are estranged.’
He continued, ‘The reach of Christian solidarity is infinite. It includes the tiny innocent waiting to be born and the soul that has grown hard and bitter with the stresses of life. Our lives are a constant invitation to grow into the solidarity that Christmas signifies.
‘The place where we first begin to learn about this solidarity is in our families. During the coming year we in Ireland will have opportunities to reflect on the importance of family, culminating in the World Meeting of Families in Dublin from 22 – 26 August.’
Bishop McGuckian concluded his Christmas message saying, ‘It is my prayer in my first Christmas in Raphoe that we will all open our hearts to the shocking, scandalous, truth of Christmas and learn to make our families, with all their weaknesses and strengths, centres of that solidarity that Jesus came to establish on earth.’