Dear Member of the De La Salle Community:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them: and they were sore afraid."
These words of the holy evangelist speak of the mystery of the Incarnation as revealed to the poor shepherds in the fields about Bethlehem. We learn that the shepherds were overtaken by profound fear as they encountered the intervention of the divine into our time and history. This fear turned to an indescribable joy at the realisation that this event meant something extraordinary that they could not have even imagined but somehow at the same time understood. How could they have known that this terrific happening they were to witness could have signalled the coming of the Creator of all in a tiny babe found in a lowly manger in a remote place on this earth? Yet, so it was, and is.
No feast still on the calendar rivals Christmas, even for non-Christians. It is a time when families gather and friends reconnect to exchange gifts and best wishes for the season. For some just the hustle and bustle of these weeks at the end of the year are enough to create a special exhilaration. The orgy of consumerism that has supplanted the feast which Christians are supposed to hold sacred stands in the way of the need for us to truly recall the events of the Incarnation of the Word into time and space.
Today though, it is clear there are many challenges which threaten a faithful celebration of the true meaning of the season – the remembrance of the Birth of the Christ Child. The current practices seem so foreign to what joy the shepherds must have felt. And, yet, I believe it is possible to share in the joy of the shepherds if we make an effort to recall what is important. For Catholics, and other Christians, attendance at Church should be a priority. Making a good confession is also a good way to prepare to receive the Christ Child in our hearts. Remembering the poor will remind us of the need to side with the poor every day of the year.
So let us approach this wonderful and magical time of year with gratitude, thankfulness and joy for the gift of God's only begotten Son in our lives and for the gift of our own humanity. These will help us understand the sense of awe experienced by the shepherds as they approached the stable, first with fear and trepidation, but then with immense joy as they knelt before the Eternal King of the Ages who wore his most precious crown in the straw that served as the throne of all thrones for all time.
"Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
May the recollection and celebration of the birth of the Christ Child bring into our lives the courage and strength to practise our faith with resolve and zeal not just one day but every day. I join my prayers to those of all the staff of De La Salle College "Oaklands" and to yours in the hope that you will be graced with a happy and holy Christmas.
Brother Domenic, fsc