Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Archbishop NIchols Christmas Homily - and a laugh at our expense

Archbishop Nichols caught the headlines over the Christmas period because of his remarks about gay marriage in a BBC interview. Reporting somewhat mixed this interview with the text of his homily at Midnight Mass for Christmas, giving the impression that the latter was significantly given over to the question of same-sex marriage. It wasn't, and the full text of the homily is here. It is worth reading the full text to capture the balance of the homily.

Some parts of the homily have a clear two-fold nature as far as what one might call "target audience" is concerned. They are addressed first of all to the faithful present at the Mass, and to the wider faithful of the Catholic community, calling them to "purification". But they also have a secondary address to society as a whole, challenging it to a similar purification, a recognition that not everything and anything is right and proper.
Yet, as St Paul reminds us, if this promise is to be realised in its fullness, then we need to be purified. There are, he tells us, things that we have to give up as they do not lead directly to God. There are aspects of our lives that cannot be lifted up to heaven without that purification.

Sometimes our charity is formed more out of self-interest that genuine compassion for the other. Perhaps we have more than half an eye on the onlookers who will be impressed by our public generosity so that we are seeking the glory that will be ours rather than the relief of need. Sometimes patterns of work and business are simply exploitative of employees, suppliers or customers. A corrosive disrespect can fashion the culture of a business and put in it need of refashioning.

Sometimes sexual expression can be without the public bond of the faithfulness of marriage and its ordering to new life. Even governments mistakenly promote such patterns of sexual intimacy as objectively to be approved and even encouraged among the young.

This Christmas is then a time to make fresh resolves that what we bring to the crib may be more readily, through the Lord's mercy, raised to heaven and become fittingly part of God's good work.
[The homily that I heard on Christmas night could be entitled A laugh at our expense.]

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