Excerpt from The Weekly Times - The Birth of Jesus brings hope, says Ryde Gladesville parish priest

The birth of Jesus brings hope into the lives of people overcome by despair, local parish priest Father Greg Morgan said this week. 

Father Greg is the parish priest of St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Ryde and Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gladesville. While both churches are within the relatively affluent lower north shore, Father Greg regularly encounters people who face despair, fear, doubt and despondency. 

In this Christmas interview with The Weekly Times, he described the Nativity of Jesus Christ as a "living event" that - when taken to heart - can be life changing. "I meet so many people who have lost hope", he said. "The world has dazzled us so that we do not see we need Jesus Christ anymore." He said the Nativity of Jesus is more than just a story, it is something all creation had been waiting and longing for. 

"It is the desire of God to break into our lives, to bring hope and to overcome despair," he said. 
In Catholic, and other churches, the story of the Birth of Jesus is told on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. "These circumstances include the persecutions of Herod, the killing of infants, the flight of the Holy Family to Bethlehem as well as the appearance of an angel to the shepherds and the remarkable journey of the three wise men."

"If God can work His plan in these extraordinary circumstances, how much so can He work His plan in the extraordinary circumstances of our own lives? 

He also spoke about a key theme in Christian teaching... that no sin, despair or sense of alienation.. is greater than the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. "Everyone can welcome the Holy Child, the baby Jesus in the manger and hold Him to their heart.""So that at Christmas, especially, the Kingdom of God can be within us, bringing hope where there is despair. Mass is held at midnight in Catholic churches on Christmas Eve. 

This year, Fr Greg has placed the Nativity Scene inside St Charles Borromeo Church in front of the altar, rather than to one side of it, as is tradition. His aim is to link the Nativity to the mass and to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. "Jesus physically and spiritually enters our lives and with this comes the gift of hope", Fr Greg said.

This Nativity scene at St Charles Borromeo Church incorporates the figures of the Holy Family, the shepherds, wise men and the angel in a new manger created by Fr Alfredo who used locally gathered materials to construct it. "The figures themselves are very, very old and are part of the history of this historic Church and through the use of local materials to create the manger, Father Alfredo shows that Christ has come to dwell among us."

Father Greg hopes that people who are lonely or feel alienated and dejected will come to mass at Christmas."To those people who do not have a family, there is the Holy Family for them to be with at Christmas and they have the family of our parish and that is somewhere where they can know they belong," he said. 

Christians of all denominations and non-Christians are welcome to attend.

By Greg Turner
Originally published in The Weekly Times, Wednesday 11 December 2019