St Etheldreda's

Roman Catholic Church

Homilies from St Etheldreda's

A Christmas That Lasts

Posted December 24, 2013

Christmas has a wonderful appeal for all of us, but it’s difficult to put your finger on precisely why this is.  It has surely got something to do with the fact that it falls in bleak midwinter, and how delightful it is to be cocooned with one’s loved ones, safe and warm against the rigours outside, and to have the damp and gloom dispelled by Christmas lights and a crackling log fire.  Of course, the magic of Christmas goes deeper than those physical things: there is the Crib, of course, with baby Jesus, so tender and mild, sleeping in heavenly peace; there are the beautiful carols, which have become part of our soul; the charming stories from St Luke, also part of our soul; the happy exchange of greetings and gifts; the moments of being together.  For the parents among you, there is the delightful sight, or the fond memories, of your children gathered around you and excitedly opening their presents.  For us oldies, there are the memories of Christmases past; the charms of our own childhood recalled; and many other Christmas joys (including not being expected to lift a finger when everyone else is scurrying around, doing all the work).  And for the grandparents among you, there is the proud satisfaction of counting your children’s children in your happy old age, just as the Nuptial Blessing at your wedding ceremony wished upon you long ago.  Most of us, young and old, feel ourselves surrounded by warmth at Christmas, and we experience contentment.  Whatever the explanation of it, Christmas strikes a deep cord in our minds and hearts.  There is something in us that yields without resistance to the enchantment of it all, almost as if part of our souls was made for Christmas!

But all these things, magical as they are, and all these lovely emotions, pass by quickly.  It will not be long before we are putting the tired old paraphernalia, and baby Jesus, back into their boxes and hoovering up the last crop of pine needles.  The Christmas spirit will be no more, and we’ll be back to signal failures on the Hammersmith and City.

But we are made for Christmas at a deeper level, a Christmas that lasts, a Christmas that isn’t celebrated just annually.  For built into the very structure of our being is a capacity for God, an appetite for the infinite, a need to love and to be loved endlessly.  Our minds were made to know God, and will never find meaning apart from him; our hearts were made to embrace him, and without him we shall only ever find frustration.  ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they come to rest in you.’  In comparison with this deep and silent longing, those annual Christmas emotions are but surface sentiments.

Tonight put aside all other concerns, all other desires, all your fears and anxieties, your hurts and regrets, and open your heart to Jesus, who is able to fulfil your deepest longings.  In him, God comes looking for you as one who is like you, to bring meaning to your life.  Take him to yourself, and in him you will find what you are looking for.

And may he find in you what he is looking for.

Fr Tom Deidun

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