Text: Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor at Midnight Mass

  Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor gave the following homily at Midnight Mass in Westminster Cathedral last night. My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The first thing I want to say to you this evening is to wish you a happy Christmas. It is easy to say but what do I mean? The word Christmas is clear because to all of you here tonight Christmas means the Birth of Jesus, the Christ, Who comes to save us from sin, from death and to show us the way to heaven. But to be happy? What is happiness and what must we do to be happy? It is interesting that when Jesus talks about happiness, he speaks about what we must be but only once about what we must do. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says: Happy the poor in spirit, the merciful, the gentle, the pure of heart. Then Jesus says, Happy are those who are peacemakers. Jesus came, as the reading says, as Prince of Peace, and the Angels proclaimed Him, Glory to God in the highest and peace to those who enjoy His favour. So when I wish you a happy Christmas, as I do tonight, I wish you, in particular, this Christmastime, the happiness that comes to those who are peacemakers because, as Jesus says, they are the children of God. And you will be - and are - a child of God if you strive to be a peace-maker. I wish you peace in your own hearts because that is a peace that the world cannot give and is a gift of God. How often do we find ourselves troubled in spirit, in heart? Jesus says, Let not your hearts be troubled; trust in God still and trust in Me. To trust in God means to listen to what God wants of you and say, like the young man in the gospel, What must I do? And then listen to Him and find peace because in God's will, for you, is your peace. It is as simple and as difficult as that. So to have a happy Christmas is to be a person of prayer, listening to God, endeavouring to find peace in doing what He wants in your daily life. But I also wish you peace in your homes because peace in your home is the beginning of peace in the homes of the community. Peace in your home does not happen necessarily all at once, it is striven for day by day, in mutual respect and forgiveness between husband and wife and children - it takes daily effort and sacrifice. Happy the peace-makers. So in wishing you a happy Christmas I wish you peace in your homes, in your families, and in the community of which you form part. Endeavour to be a peace-maker. Happiness lies in being a peace-maker because then you will be conscious of being a Child of God, the God Who came as Prince of Peace. But to wish you a happy Christmas is also somehow a wish for peace in our world. How is it that peace has not arrived? How is it that there is war in Iraq, violence in the Holy Land, and the horror of pain and death amongst the poor and deprived who suffer from injustice and thus do not find peace? What a terrible thing it is that billions - and I mean billions of pounds - are being spent in war in the Middle East which could have been spent bringing people out of dire poverty and malnourishment and disease. How can one wish a happy Christmas for our fellow-Christians in Iraq or in the Holy Land or those who suffer in Africa unless you and I, in whatever way is open to us, to say and do what makes for peace. Happy are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. You may well say what can I do? Nearly 70 years ago, a hero of mine called Angelo Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, was sent as the Church's representative to Istanbul in Turkey. At that time, Turkey was a very divided country and religious hatreds, Catholics among them, were regarded with the deepest distrust. Pope John decided the only contribution he could make towards understanding and peace, was to be personally kind. It was slow, patient work. Pope John called it ants' work, bees' work. He burrowed away, taking away tiny bits of the bitterness between peoples. For as the Prophet Isaiah says, How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of one who brings good news, who heralds peace, brings happiness, proclaims salvation, and tell Zion your God is King. Christmastime is a time to think of peace, to pray for peace, and resolve to be peacemakers, so as to bring peace into our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our world. I want to wish you all tonight (today) a very happy Christmas, above all, I will pray that your happiness will bring peace into your hearts, make you peacemakers in your homes and communities and make you in tiny ways, but real ways, makers of peace in our world. It is possible, it is real, it is worth, always, striving for, because of the promise of Our Saviour. Because as the angel said: Do not be afraid, listen, I bring you news of great joy, the joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord, and here is a sign for you, you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly, with the angel, there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing, Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom He favours. Source: Archbishops House

Share this story