By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 December, 2013
In his Christmas message, Cardinal Sean Brady said that as those who have come for Christmas from afar know well, “the love we experience in our families is precious”
The Archbishop of Armagh said this love was a reflection of the love which God has for each one of us and was the same love “which inspired the Father to send his beloved Son to be our Saviour on that first Christmas night.”
Elsewhere in his Christmas message, the Cardinal said he hoped that the great activities of preparing for, and celebrating, Christmas would not overshadow Christ and the many gifts that He wants to bring, especially the gifts of love, peace and pardon.
He also singled out those without company, without food and warmth at this time and prayed that they would be sustained by the concern of their fellow human beings.
“I am thinking of people in need here at home but also of people in the Philippines, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he explained.
“I am thinking also especially of the many people throughout the world who have no peace. Through the work of wise and compassionate negotiators, may they too experience the salvation brought by Christ.”
The Primate of All Ireland said his final hope for his Christmas message was that all of us “come to see that the Birth of Christ means little or nothing if He has not been born in our hearts.”
“This means that the work of Christmas really begins when we console the broken-hearted, feed the hungry, welcome the strangers, release the prisoners and bring peace among people.”
He invited everyone, but especially public representatives, and all who believe in a more just and compassionate world, to support the call of Pope Francis for an all-out concerted action to end world hunger by the year 2025.
The initiative is called ‘One Human Family. Food for All’.
“For far too long we have allowed global hunger and local poverty to be seen as tolerable,” the Cardinal regretted.
“The fact is this; we can solve the problem of hunger and poverty, if we decide to do so. Let us recall once more: the work of Christmas begins when we feed the hungry and may God speed that work in 2014.”
He concluded his Christmas message by saying Christmas is a special day. “May it be very special day for every one of you this year and may the peace of Jesus triumph in your hearts every day in 2014.”
Separately, in an interview with the Irish Independent, Cardinal Brady said Irish people have once again shown they have “hearts of gold” by their hugely generous response to the Church’s appeal for Syria and the Philippines which is expected to total a massive €4 million.
“That is a fantastic response, reflecting a very generous people. We have tough times here but people in Ireland have reached out. They realise that there are people who have tougher times,” he said in the interview published on Monday.
He said their generosity showed that they want to give thanks for their life and their freedom.
According to a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops, the amount of money donated for Syria and the Philippines is one of the largest collections ever. “It is not on a par but it would be in the league of the appeal for Haiti and the Tsunami,” he said.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Cardinal Brady said, “Remember, this isn’t the only collection, there are other collections going on all the time for the St Vincent de Paul and for example we had a lady in Armagh parish raising funds for the building of wells in Africa and that raised €32,250. We have to acknowledge the generosity and goodness of people.”
He also paid tribute to the media’s role in highlighting the plight of people caught up in conflict and natural disasters and had evoked this generous response.