“Christmas is often called the season of peace and goodwill, when we might be expected to make a special effort to be nice and kind to other people. Which of course is a good thing to do, and would be better still if we could sustain the effort beyond the season!
“I also hope and pray that the Christmas message of peace may be heard and fulfilled where there is now war and violence; and not least wherever people live in fear – fear for life or livelihood, fear of losing their job, fear of hunger or homelessness, fear for their future of their family or relationships. For where there is fear there is no true peace.
“The Christmas story suggests that the antidote to fear is not bravado but love. As it says in the Bible, “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” In the lowly birth, loving life, and self-giving death and glorious resurrection of Jesus, we see the loving purpose of God for all humanity; and we are challenged to respond in love for God and our neighbours, whoever they might be, whatever their nationality, culture or creed. After all, among the first visitors to be welcomed by the Holy Family after the birth of Jesus were poor shepherds from out of town and strangers from foreign lands.
“So in wishing you a happy Christmas I pray that, in and through the child of Bethlehem, you may find true and lasting peace – the love which casts out fear, and leads to peace in your heart, peace in your home, peace in your community and peace in our broken and divided world. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to all people.”