By Bishop Robert McGuckin of Toowoomba
AS the year draws to a close we look both backwards and forwards.
Globally it has been a very mixed year.
From where we are we may say how fortunate we are when we consider many problems around the world, for example: Africa and the Ebola crisis; the Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East with wars and conflicts.
Even locally we shouldn’t become so self-absorbed that we overlook the plight of many in our area who continue to struggle because of drought and other difficulties.
Our preoccupation at this time might be what we have to do in preparation for Christmas: Who do we have to buy presents for? What do we expect to receive in the way of presents? What will we eat at Christmas and where will we go during the holidays?
May we be outward thinking and put the needs of others first.
Caritas Sierra Leone is supporting agencies on the ground providing medical and personal support to Ebola victims and their families.
A Christmas gift of financial support to them would be a meaningful and worthwhile act of charity. Donations to the Africa Emergency Appeal can be made through www.caritas.org.au or by calling 1800 024 413.
Towards the end of 2013 the Holy Father, Pope Francis called an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the topic Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelisation.
This synod was held in October 2014.
Prior to the synod the Pope sent a questionnaire around the world seeking views from pastors and lay people.
This set in motion a process of listening to name and face varying pastoral challenges.
Pope Francis in the closing Mass of the extraordinary synod pointed out that “synod” means “journeying together”.
As we hasten towards the great celebration of the birth of Jesus may we be open to the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews.
We are called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in people who have lost hope.
May the Holy Spirit guide Pope Francis and the Church as we move towards the Ordinary Synod in October 2015.
At this time may we hear the call to prepare a way for the Lord and generously respond preparing a way for the Lord in our heart and in our world.
May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you and your loved ones now and throughout 2015.