The days pass into weeks and weeks into months and now we stand before yet another new year. We live immersed in continual change as all things come into existence, grow to maturity and fade.
Not even the whirling galaxies of this far-flung universe are permanent; across distances beyond our imagining, stars are born, burn into maturity and then blaze into extinction.
Even in our immediate world, the seasons pass and their influence upon creatures are evident as they complete the circle of birth, growth, decay and death.
Cardinal Newman succinctly expressed this phenomenon when he said “Frail and transitory as is every part of it, restless and migratory as are its elements, never-ceasing as are its changes, still it abides. It is bound together by a law of permanence, it is set up in unity; and, though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life again.” (The Second Spring)
Nor are human beings and their institutions exempt from this great circle of existence. Great empires are founded, flourish and then disappear. Political and social organisations commence with great plans for change, lose their momentum and sink into stagnancy.
Afloat on these restless seas of change we live our daily lives amid waves of joy and success which are followed often by billows of hardship and distress.
The simplicity of the nativity helps focus on the most important aspects of the Christian faith.
Christians are steadied by their faith and hope; they aid us as we try to lead our lives in these times of confusion, clamour and conflict in this ever-changing world. We are taught not to succumb to arrogance or pride in the moments of great wellbeing and elation and not to surrender to discouragement or despair in the painful moments of our Church’s scandals.
Calm composure is a mark of a truly mature Christian character and it is bolstered by the faithfilled conviction that God is present in all of his creation. It is indeed our consolation that amid all the impermanence about us, God’s loving presence is with us.
Yet, more still, not only his presence but through the mystery of the Incarnation, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son … so that the world might be saved.” (John 3:16). The mystery of the Incarnation, “the Word made flesh”, like all great mysteries is conceived in silence away from tumult and din, in the quietness of our minds and hearts.
So it was when in the ‘fullness of time’ the mystery of the Incarnation was realised in the stable of Bethlehem, it was amid the peace that lay upon the Judean hills: “When the midnight silence reigned all was quiet, and when peace lay upon the land, your almighty Word, O God, came down to us.”
May the mystery of the Incarnation, the birth of the Christ Child, which we are about to celebrate in all its warmth, strengthen our faith and our hope to live in bonds of love with our loved ones.
A Holy and Peaceful Christmas to you all!