May the gift that Christmas is bless you with peace and happiness, continuing throughout the New Year.
Happiness is not to be equated with consumerism and materialism, especially when this leads to personal debt. Leading up to 2007 greed and self-indulgent behaviour resulted in a financial and economic crisis starting in 2008. That crisis is ongoing because the institutions and population have not taken heed of the warning and changed their behaviour. We are dominated by a culture of celebrity, commercialisation and reward that is self-serving and narcissistic. This culture undermines our society and is the exact opposite of the Culture of Life, Moderation and Modesty, based on enduring and traditional truths and values, that we hope to achieve through a Christian Democratic Resurgence by promoting and serving the Common Good.
Today we are focused on the Holy Family and the Nativity of the Lord. The Blessed Virgin Mary betrothed to Joseph was with child. In the culture of that time and place she faced a public divorce and stoning, that would have resulted in her own death and that of her child. Joseph, after first proposing a private divorce to spare her that shame and punishment, was guided to the course of adopter and guardian. Two thousand years later we celebrate their bravery and commitment to God’s wishes and the birth of Our Lord and Saviour in Bethlehem.
Pope Francis, at his General Audience on 18th March 2015, spoke on The Gift of Children. On their ‘Simplicity and tenderness’ he said:
“Furthermore, children – in their interior simplicity – bring with them the capacity to receive and give tenderness. Tenderness is having a heart “of flesh” and not “of stone”, as the Bible says (cf. Ez 36:26). Tenderness is also poetry: it is “feeling” things and events, not treating them as mere objects, only to use them, because they are useful………
Children have the capacity to smile and to cry. Some, when I pick them up to embrace them, smile; others see me dressed in white and think I am a doctor and that I am going to vaccinate them and they cry…spontaneously! Children are like this: they smile and cry, two things which are often “stifled” in grown ups, we are no longer capable….. So often our smile becomes a cardboard smile, like a clown. Children smile spontaneously and cry spontaneously. It always depends on the heart and often our heart is blocked and loses this capacity to smile, to cry. So children can teach us how to smile and cry again. But we must ask ourselves: do I smile spontaneously, frankly, with love or is my smile artificial? Do I still cry or have I lost the capacity to cry? These are two very human questions that children teach us.
For all these reasons Jesus invited his disciples to “become like children”, because “the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like them” (cf. Mt 18:3; Mk 10:14).
Dear brothers and sisters, children bring life, cheerfulness, hope, also troubles. But such is life. Certainly, they also bring worries and sometimes many problems; but better a society with these worries and these problems, than a sad, grey society because it is without children! When we see that the birth rate of a society is barely one percent, we can say that this society is sad, it is grey because it has no children.“