JOINT CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FOR 2019 FROM THE BISHOPS OF CLOGHER

 As Christian leaders we wish to bring you a renewed message of hope at this time – ‘the people that walked in darkness has seen a great light…’ (Isaiah 9:1). In times of upheaval and uncertainty it is vital that all Christians show forth the light of Christ through our compassion and care of others and by standing together in the public square on questions that impact on our society and our common home.

There are many signs of darkness in our world today. We don’t have to be reminded of the fact that we live in a time of upheaval and fear. We hear and we see it on our TV screens, and through various forms of social media each day. Homelessness, the evil of human trafficking, the plight of migrants and refugees, the persecution of Christians and other minorities, the disregard for human life – including that of the unborn – and the general atmosphere of political uncertainty, all of these, together with the many personal stories of stress and anxiety, call us to be bearers of light in the midst of darkness and uncertainty.

As Christians we have good news to tell and we are called to proclaim it together by our actions in the world. A very good example of this is to be found in the joint initiative of the Churches in Ireland on the question of housing insecurity and homelessness. Last September a series of practical resources around this question, for use in our Church communities, was launched by the Irish Inter-Church Meeting.[i] As followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born into this world as a homeless person, we have a duty to make our voices heard in this debate, alongside others in society. As people of faith we are obliged to draw the attention of our political leaders to the plight of so many people in our country today who are suffering and in distress because of housing insecurity and homelessness. The Gospel inspires us and demands of us that we give witness to the right of all people to have homes to live in. As Christians standing and working together, let us continue to show solidarity and pastoral outreach; to bring the light of Christ to those are who are homeless or in danger of being homeless. May we be bearers of hope, assuring them that they do not have to face this problem alone.

The coming of Christ at Christmas brings us light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of turmoil, joy in the midst of fear and simplicity in the midst of a society that is increasingly self-absorbed.

Just as the Son of God was born into our world at a time of political turmoil, upheaval and fear, he comes to us now again in our time to show us the light of life, a light that ‘shines forth for the just’ (Ps. 96:11).

May each of us this Christmas be a light to the world, most especially through our outreach to those in need and those who are marginalised by economic and political circumstances.

May the light, joy and hope of Christ surround each and every one of you and your families this Christmas.

+ Larry Duffy                                                                    + John McDowell

[i] These resources are available on https://www.irishchurches.org/cmsfiles/homeless/