ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE is asking Catholics to reach out to the isolated and lonely this Christmas.
AT Christmas time we think about gift-giving, and not only think about it, we actually give gifts.
We go and buy gifts, here, there and everywhere, which can be a bit of a chore, at least for people like me. But gift-giving is a part of the great tradition of Christmas.
Now sometimes, the gift-giving can be a bit routine, it can be empty in its heart – it doesn’t have to be like that of course, but it can be. But there is one gift, and this will cost you nothing to buy, but it will be a great gift to give, one gift in this Christmas time that you can offer to someone else and that is the gift of the Eucharist, not available at a store near you, but available free of charge at a church near you.
So what I would invite each of you to do is to focus upon one person, someone who perhaps might be on his or her own, a bit isolated, and reach out to that person with a gift of your invitation and invite that person to join you at Mass at Christmas time.
Christmas is a time when there is an openness to that which is genuinely spiritual and genuinely religious. People are looking for things like peace and joy about which we speak at Christmas time, but deep down they’re looking for the real thing, and the real thing is offered every time we come to the table of the Lord’s feast, as we do in a particular way at Christmas time. But it’s not just a matter of tapping them on the shoulder and inviting them to Mass – that’s a good thing.
But, it’s equally important and part of the same invitation to invite that person or those persons into a community because really that’s when people will really enter the mystery of the Lord’s feast when they enter the loving embrace of a community.
So inviting that person to join you at Christmas Mass, you’re really inviting that person to join you as part of a community and this can be particularly important at Christmas time for people who might be feeling a bit isolated or a bit lonely. What I would suggest too, is that you would think not only of inviting them to the table of the Lord’s feast, but as part of the same invitation, think of inviting them to the table of your feast.
Why not think of inviting them to join you and your family perhaps for Christmas dinner, someone who might be, again, a bit on the margins, a bit lonely and a bit isolated.
Don’t just invite them to Mass – do that – but as part of the same invitation, invite them to the table of your feast and then Christmas can become for you in a new and deeper way an experience of the Lord’s presence, the word made flesh in our midst, but also a new and more powerful, more peaceful and more joyful experience of what it means to be community at Christmas.
Archbishop Coleridge is Archbishop of Brisbane.