Christmas Message 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 Dec 2014
24 Dec 2014
Sydney and Australia are in shock and grief. It will take time for our city to recover; for the families of the deceased and the survivors; for a community also traumatized by what happened in Martin Place.
What we experienced was a glimpse of what has become all too commonplace in other places. We think of the recent Taliban attack on the children in Pakistan. We think of the self-styled "Islamic State" organisation, with its regime of violence, caricature of religion, deafness to reason and intolerance of difference. These people do not blink even at beheading children.
The outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the Martin Place siege, the spontaneous floral tributes outside the Lindt Café, the internet campaigns of solidarity, the tributes to our police and emergency workers, the unity shown by community leaders and countless individuals: all these things say that in Sydney, at least, violence will not be the last word.
There are echoes here of the first Christmas. At that time the terrorist-king Herod perpetrated terrible violence upon innocents and drove the family of Jesus into exile as refugees.
Yet still there was hope and a promise of peace among people of goodwill. So, too, Sydney has said this week, loud and clear: violence is not the last word; life and love are more powerful than death; we will not let this undermine harmony in our common life.
But where does this hope and determination come from? One factor is the sunny optimism of Australians, the Aussie sense of "give people a fair go" and "she'll be right".
Behind that, I think, is our Christian heritage. Our faith that God cares. That He cares enough to come among us as a baby Prince of Peace at Christmas. That as Prince of Peace He offers divine reconciliation to every man, woman and child. That the Christmas baby comes not to conquer by force but to win hearts and minds by love.
That makes Christmas a season of good will, of generosity, family and community, for Christians and even for our non-Christian friends and neighbours. Most Australians have demonstrated that very spirit amidst the sadness of recent days.
May God bless you all this Christmas. May the Christ-child come to dwell in the manger of your hearts and bring you and all your loved ones the gift of Christmas Peace!