Dear brothers and sisters,
“Though he was God, Jesus emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant and becoming like all human beings”. With these words, St Paul tells us the mystery of the God-made-flesh, which we celebrate at Christmas.
Christmas is God coming to us in human form and showing us that we are loved inherently, abundantly and eternally.
The incarnation was not an after-thought of an angry God.
It was not Plan B because we humans messed up Plan A.
Jesus is the fullness of God’s revelation of love for us and for all of creation. This means that no matter who we are: male or female, black or white, straight or gay, rich or poor, high or low, citizen or refugee etc… God’s love embraces us and reverences us all.
Christmas shows God to be a boundary breaker. In Jesus, God abandoned his own security and entered the world of others. This pattern continued in his life and ministry.
Jesus constantly went beyond the borders of every kind and affirmed the humanity of all. In so doing, he invites us as he did the Magi, to step beyond our fears, our tribal confines and to expand the boundaries of our love.
Pope Francis has challenged us not to cling to our security, not to remain behind the locked doors of our comfort and fear of change.
He encourages us to be in mission.
The church at its best is the church in journey with others, sharing our treasures of the Gospel. It is the church willing to suffer with others, willing as he said to be bruised and hurt, because it has been out on the streets with them.
Here in our Diocese, we too endeavour to be the church in journey with one another and with others. We have an awesome task ahead of us as we seek to unite the community after the postal survey on same-sex marriage, and of course, a greater task of rebuilding the church after the Royal Commission.
Christmas provides us not merely a respite but an opportunity to reflect on the core values of our faith in the light of these challenges.
I hope and pray that we can discern the way forward together, especially through the synodal journey towards the Diocesan Assembly in 2019 and then the National Synod in 2020.
Let us through our faithful discipleship enact the missionary journey of Christ and to enable others to have the fullness of life and to share God’s triumph of love.
I wish you my blessings and prayers for a Christmas season filled with peace, joy and hope.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta