Andy Hamilton SJ reflects on the true spirit of Christmas.
In the Christian tradition, which we inherit at Jesuit Social Services, Christmas marks the point at which God shared our human experience. It is to wonder at the contrast between the completeness and self-sufficiency of God and the smallness, dependence and mean surroundings of the baby Jesus born in the stable. In the Christmas stories the Son of God comes in solidarity with the poor, the homeless, those who flee from persecution, and those who do not count. The message, carried much more effectively in stories than it ever can be in argument, is that each person counts in God’s eyes, and should count in our eyes, too.
At Jesuit Social Services, we come out of many faiths and philosophies; we also can tell many stories to express our shared conviction that each person matters. They are stories of relationships with vulnerable young people, with people who came to Australia to seek protection, with people who have suffered and inflicted domestic violence, with growing up with many forms of disadvantage, and with people grieving the deaths of relatives who took their own lives. These stories tell of great pain, of hanging in with people who struggle to make connections, of past Christmases as days of hostility and not of love, and of joy at seeing people move from half living to a full and generous life.
In the Christmas story these are the people whose lives Jesus would have liked to be part of. They are our friends. At Christmas we wish them happiness. We also thank all the people who have helped us as we accompany them.