21 December 2011
Christmas and New Year Messages from the Archbishop of Glasgow

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Yet again this year I was privileged to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   It is truly inspirational to walk there in the footsteps of Christ and to see the places which are so familiar to us through our reading of Sacred Scripture.

Amid all the chaos of mass tourism, certain spots retain their sacred character, and cause us to contemplate the events which occurred there. At Nazareth, under the dome of the great Basilica, built in recent times, is the place of the Annunciation. An inscription reads, in Latin: Here the Word became flesh . Yes, at Our Lady s fiat, here the child of the promise was conceived.

The silver star on the floor of the crypt in the ancient Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, proclaims, amid the flickering candles, the words with which we are so familiar, yet which are still truly amazing in their significance: Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary .

On that very spot, tradition has it, Christ entered the world to the song of angels, yet with only poor shepherds to greet Him. Indeed He was born amid anxiety, poverty and fear “ Mary and Joseph were far from home and were desperately in need of shelter.   These were not the circumstances they would have wished for Jesus coming into the world. It was here, in the city of David, that God s promise to the prophet was fulfilled.

Today, many families are similarly affected by anxiety, poverty and fear.   One has only to read a newspaper or listen to a news bulletin to be quite overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness amid the great financial upheavals which threaten to engulf us.   We feel helpless. We worry about our children. We see no easy solution ...

Perhaps this year, as we gaze on the crib, we can identify in a special way with the figures gathered then “ with Mary, feeling worried and alone, far from her home and relatives; and with Joseph, concerned about the health and well-being of his new family.

But let us look deeper.  

At the centre of the scene is the figure of the new-born child. The same Jesus who, some decades later, was to calm the winds and bestill the stormy waters; the same Jesus who speaks to us still, looking us in the eye, and saying: In the world you will have troubles. But be brave. I have conquered the world. (John 16,33)

This Christmas, as the uncertainties of the world pour over us, let us look again to the Prince of Peace, and recall those words of reassurance he spoke to us so long ago, and repeats to us now - Be brave   - I have conquered the world.

The victory over the world is our faith “ it is that which engenders the peace which is the greatest gift of Christ, the best of all Christmas gifts.   May it be yours throughout the coming year.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

Archbishop Mario Conti
Archbishop of Glasgow

In his New Year message, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, focuses on the effects of the recession in the lives of many, identifying the anxiety over jobs and opportunities; the real poverty affecting many households and fear for the future.  

He reflects on similar experiences witnessed during his recent trip to Bethlehem “ the birthplace of Christ “ where poverty and walls of division contradict the Christmas message, and where the poverty of Christ s birth is still mirrored in the deprivations of the Christian and Muslim population.

The Archbishop notes:   Divisions in our own society are not the result of physical walls, but of the increasing gulf between the incomes of the well-established and richer sections of the community and those who might once have identified themselves as ˜working class but for whom now the very description ˜working is denied.

The Archbishop added: While people of faith will draw comfort and hope from the example of the Holy Family, those for whom the Christian message no longer carries conviction will often experience a measure of despair, and it is for all of us “ especially those in Government “ to address these issues with growing concern and commitment.

The prayers and good deeds of the communities which celebrate Christmas must be directed there, not only during this season, but in the year ahead.

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