Homily given in SS Peter and Paul (RC), Portlaoise, at the Vigil Mass for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

It’s a pleasure and delight to be here tonight to bring to you warmest Christmas greetings and blessings from the people of St Peter’s. And personally from Susan and me, and especially to Fr John and his colleagues here. Whether they know it or not, they are a great source of advice and support for me, and I treasure that more than I can say.

In the Church of Ireland, of course, we use the same lectionary as you, so like you this weekend we celebrate Mary the Mother of God. My very short message to you is kind-of biological. By the simple act of saying ‘yes’ to the Lord’s invitation, Mary allowed the infant Christ to grow in her belly for nine months. Just think how we can be transformed by that same simple act – saying ‘yes’ to the Lord’s will.

VladimirIf we can be transformed, then think how much the world will be transformed.

Christmas, when you strip away the gooey stuff, is a festival of childlikeness. Not childishness, but childlikeness. Think of the newborn Lord: open, trusting, dependent, straightforward, without guile. Just think how the world could be transformed if we were all like that. ‘Transformation to the kingdom’ is for me is the real Christmas message. This is the festival where heaven meets earth, and prepares us for being taken there ourselves.

Discerning the Lord’s will is not an easy exercise when we have to cope with all the ‘noise’ and distractions that the world throws at us, but as the Nativity shows us, the Lord is with us in our mess, just as he is in the mess of the stable. God bless this mess.

As we sing in one of the Christmas Carols: O holy child of Bethlehem, be born in us today. Let the Divine light within grow to en-lighten us from the inside out.

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