Toronto - All the symbolism of the original Christmas story proclaims clearly a God acting in love to meet the needs of the poor, the outcast, the homeless. Jesus was born not in a home, but in a stable, in a community strange and confusing to his parents who were running in obedient fear of an oppressive authority.
Yet all the symbolism of our modern Christmas seems to point to home and hearth, well-being, family, warmth and security.
Somehow, if Christmas is to have all the reality that it can, we must bridge that gap. Unless we do, our Christmas observances simply reinforce a self-indulgent way of living. Christmas must challenge us to see the world with a fresh vision. It is all too easy to give a toy or contribute to a Christmas-basket-for-the-poor fund. I would not want to make light of those activities, but I also acknowledge that the Christmas Gospel commits us to more than a once-a-year act of charity to the poor.
Christmas should move us to work for a new world which addresses the root causes of homelessness, poverty, oppression, hunger and violence. It call us - the Babe of Bethlehem calls us - to put together, as did the angels who sang at his birth - the glory of God and the peace of humanity.
I offer a special prayer at this Christmas tide for all those who will spend the day alone or in poverty; no one knows first hand that loneliness and poverty more than Jesus, and no one can speak more lovingly to you than he can. However, as he speaks to you, I pray also that all of us who are not poor and not alone will also hear his voice.