+ Bishop Colm O'Reilly - Christmas 2008

For children in the now distant past the year that separated one Christmas from another seemed to be the nearest thing to eternity. I have an abiding memory of a time when the days after Christmas were tinged with sadness because soon the decorations would be down and normal life would be resumed. Does any child have these feelings anymore? Most likely they don't since the luxuries that are experienced at Christmas are also distributed over the rest of the year as well. At least so it has been for several years now. But for some families the era of carefree spending at Christmas is over, for a time at least.


No one wants to become like Scrooge in Dickens' Christmas Carol begrudging the enjoyment of the Feast of the Nativity to families. The treats that we give, the presents that we share are like an extension of the love of God that is at the heart of Christmas. However, let it be said that the quality of our celebration cannot and should not be measured by the cost of what we buy. When we say that 'it is the thought that matters' that is especially true at this time.


I would like to add a further point to that comment. Many people have already lost out with the downturn in our economy. Many would wish they could be more generous but cannot afford to be. There is need for sensitivity as well as generosity. It has been said by the Society of St Vincent de Paul that people who were their supporters in the past are now themselves seeking help. At this time we need to look out, as never before, for relations, neighbours and our own friends. Our presents should not be for those who can give presents to us only but for those who cannot afford to do so as well.


Would having less to spend necessarily take from the enjoyment of Christmas? I do not think it need do so. I am convinced of this because of a conversation I had with a man who left Ireland about sixty years ago. He was reminiscing about his young days in Ireland, having lived most of his adult life in Australia. He had wonderful memories of growing up in a home where there was plenty of fun, where many people welcomed in the winter nights for stories, singing and playing music. The most memorable thing he said was: "the only thing we did not have was money - and that was not important".


There was music and singing around the manger where Jesus was born. It would have been customary to have music to honour the birth of a baby boy to a Jewish family in Christ's time. But there would not have been any for Jesus but for the fact that the angels came to sing of His birth. May angels' singing be in our ears this Christmas and bring joy to us in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves.

+Colm O'Reilly.

Archived References  
Bishop Colm's Christmas Message 2010
Statement by Bishop Colm O'Reilly on the Dublin Report
Bishop Colm O'Reilly video interview for Mission Sunday 2009
Message on Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock 2009
Homily by Bishop Colm for Trinity Sunday, on 150 years of SVP in Longford.
Bishop Colm's Pastoral Letter Easter 2009
Bishop Colm's Christmas Message 2008
Bishop's Letter to the Diocese, Easter 2008, 'on the way forward'.
Bishop's Message for the Year of Vocation
Bishop's Homily at Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock, Sept 2007
Message from Bishop Colm on Ferns Report
Message from Bishop Colm on the death of Pope John Paul II
Homily by Bishop Colm at Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Mel's Cathedral, 7th April
Statement from the Bishop, 27th May 2006
Homily at Clonmacnois Pattern Day, 2006
Bishop's Christmas Message 2005
Message from Bishop Colm for Vocations Sunday 2005