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The Past can be Faced and Finished
Jesus spent 90 per cent of his life at home. His first miracle was at a wedding feast. His last words from the Cross were a request to John to make a home for his mother. He believed in families. All families have problems. Some of our married friends, people in their forties, are separated or separating - with all the anguish that involves. This is, I think, partly due to a yearning for lost years, a feeling that life has passed them by and some important ingredient has been missing. The women want to look young and exciting again. Men want to show that they can make fresh conquests.
Christ offers us the chance to start again with the same person, instead of starting again with somebody else. This requires a new vision of the future based on the hope that things can change. This, in turn, depends on a growing spiritual life. St John says that if we don't develop a close relationship with God we become like dry sticks. What basis for unity have two dry sticks? Without change, self-willed and proud personalities are bound to drift apart.
For most people, Christmas means going home. A good motto for such homecomings could be 'look back in wonder'. There is plenty to wonder at if your heart is open. For the fortunate there may be memories of childhood Christmases. But all can wonder at the story of the first Christmas. God speaks to a teenage girl. She believes what He says. When her child is due she hunts desperately for a room in which to bear it. God enters the world in an astonishing, unforeseeable way.
The next step is to look forward in hope. You can find inspiration from a book, a piece of music, a picture, the sky, a skein of wild geese, a friend. But the vision of hope is best fed by a fresh look at Christ's own life, in all its simplicity.
Christ took up his calling as a boy. Benedict was 17 when he walked out of decadent Rome into the hills. Francis of Assisi was in his twenties when he answered God's call; St Paul in his thirties; Abraham 'growing old'. Whether we are young, middle-aged or old, God's promise is the same. The past can be faced and finished. Christ told us that the truth would make us free. We need no longer stay the same.
Any person, any marriage, any relationship can be reborn. Christmas offers the vision of a new world that is so compelling that it can silence those voices that say, 'It is too late. It is too difficult. What's the use.' The voice that spoke to Mary, the wise men and the shepherds still speaks today.
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