There’s a famous Christmas song which begins with the words: “Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Well that’s sadly becoming even more true, as the years progress, and our shops sell “Seasonal Goods” in October and bring out the lights, glitter and decorations once more. So much so, that by the time we get into late November and early December we’ve become desensitised to the actual Nativity that our Advent journey, is supposed, to lead us to. Many of our cities are, certainly by late November, festooned with Christmas lights, Christmas Markets and shops and bars are in full Christmas swing, either selling the latest “must have” or catering to the “Office or Works Christmas “do” as revellers, dressed in the most inappropriate clothing spill out onto the pavements filled literally, with Christmas cheer of one form or another, usually from a bottle and swallowed in “Shot form”. The streets of our towns and cities are bustling and groaning under the pounding of two-way pedestrian traffic all in a desperate hurry to get to their intended destination or by those in less of a hurry, just taking in the Christmas merchandise found on the various stalls and in shop windows. Yes, without doubt, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” for many but not for all. For tucked away in doorways and on street corners, there lie, huddled under duvets and various layers of one sort or another, those fellow pilgrims, who simply have no place to call their home; those brothers and sisters who just about exist from one day to another, all those for whom Christmas is just another cold night or day sleeping amidst extravagance and excess, whilst trying to keep warm and maintain some dignity, as others pass by on the other side. “Jingle bells” or “Frosty the Snowman” have long passed them by in favour of the now all too familiar chant of “any spare change please?”. Their presence, their existence, is for so many, an embarrassment and an inconvenience which spoils the “Christmas Look”, I mean, how could they be so inconsiderate to simply just lie there and be in the way?
It seems to me the true Christmas Story is sadly not too dissimilar from the plight of so many today; Over 2,000 years ago, two people with no home, searched desperately for shelter and warmth, amidst the backdrop of Bethlehem town that had been thrown into chaos by the arrival of swarms of people forced to register there. They too were in the way; they too were an embarrassment and an inconvenience as they wandered from place to place. No doubt others hurried past them as they rested by the roadside or at street corners, wondering where they might find a place of warmth and shelter for the night. Finally arriving at the now famous Inn, the infamous innkeeper, directed them to the stable round the back and as they say, the rest is history or rather, I should say, HIS story, for it was in that lowly cold damp place the Saviour of the world was born.
So, this year, as you walk amidst those lost and dejected, sleeping under the gaze of flashing lighted Christmas displays, spare a thought for their plight, remembering that it was to such as these, the rejected and the unwanted, those forced to live outside the city walls, that was first given the news of our dear Saviours birth. For “Whilst shepherds watched their flocks by night all seated on the ground, the angel of the Lord came down and glory shone around”. Not by chance then did God choose the rejected and the neglected to announce such glorious news and Jesus His Son will grow and mature to do the very same.
On behalf of the Catholic Police Guild I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas and Peaceful New year.
Fr. Barry Lomax, The National Chaplain