WelCom December 2021
Fr Neil Vaney sm
Luke’s gospel presents a touching picture of Jesus’ birth, humble, hidden, surrounded, perhaps, by sheep and cattle. We can easily overlook what brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem – an imperial decree from the governing power, preoccupied with taxes and control. Matthew’s account goes further in highlighting the political intrigue, telling of Herod’s search for a possible rival as king.
“Let’s enrich this Christmas not by shopping but in asking what is the best gift he has for us that we could pass on to others.”
In our Covid-stricken world we have become increasingly aware of how our own lives are constrained by authorities and markets. Mandates may be necessary. Yet people lose jobs and families are split apart. The solution offered is retail therapy as if an onslaught of Black Fridays and Christmas sales is going to heal the gaps in broken hearts.
In Matthew’s account the wise men from the East bring three highly symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold acknowledges the presence of God, a God who has chosen to share our struggles out of love for us. Incense betokens worship, not prayers for more and more expensive toys and gadgets but the coming together of families and communities in generosity and mutual acceptance. Myrrh is a recognition that we accept death; it is in our midst; we cannot escape its unwanted touch. Yet it is never total loss, just a distance to be walked across one day.
This will be a very tough Christmas for many people. Jesus’ birth brought hope and love and the growth of caring communities in just such a divided and dangerous time. Let’s enrich this Christmas not by shopping but in asking what is the best gift he has for us that we could pass on to others.