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Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Modern Ireland has an identity crisis' - Martin

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin addresses the congregation. Picture: John McElroy
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin addresses the congregation. Picture: John McElroy
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Modern Ireland has "an identity crisis about how it wishes to understand Christmas", according to Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

His homily touched upon the meaning of Christmas, the Christian spirit and the crises of homelessness and health care.

He noted 86pc of Irish people questioned in a survey believe the season has become too commercial, while the amount spent commercially this Christmas has gone far beyond previous years.

"There are those who feel that Christ has long since been marginal in people's idea of Christmas and are resigned to that situation," said the archbishop at the Pro Cathedral.

"However, this is not the complete picture. Alongside all the commercialisation, Christmas is a time for great generosity. It is a time that brings out the best in us. Families come together. The lonely are remembered."

He said Christmas was also a time in which people come to church, and "this evening our churches are filled to capacity for a joyful celebration".

But the archbishop acknowledged that some practicing Christians betray the real Christmas by the way they live.

"The Church as an institution hosts wonderful charitable organisations that really blossom at Christmas, yet it also hides within its history a shameful failure to protect children and the vulnerable," he added.

Dr Martin argued that God is present at Christmas "in the measure in which we reach out to those whom our society fails to provide with the experience of love".

"Despite our affluence, our cities conceal the faces of people of many who are left feeling that they do not belong.

"We hear daily of homelessness, immigration, poor education and inadequate health care as problems that scar our society," he said.

"Homelessness, immigration, poor education and poor health care are simply concepts. We can talk and debate about concepts and the pros and cons of our social and political responses.

"The Christmas message must draw us beyond just discussing concepts and spinning statistics, towards encountering people.

"We are talking about people who stand this night on the edges of our streets and housing estates.

"They are part of our urban landscape. We know that they are there, but do we really know them personally?

"God is present with them. God is present to us through them. We meet God in them.

"Yes, God is really present on our streets this Christmas, but do we recognise him?"

He reminded Mass-goers that celebrating Christmas in the spirit of God's love should continue all year round.

Irish Independent

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