Christmas Greeting from CCCB President Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte Archbishop of Montreal

Thursday, November 26 1998

“If Christmas could only last all year long!” How many times have we heard those words? From children as they gaze with wonder at the Christmas decorations and presents. From parents enjoying the opportunity of the entire family gathered around the Christmas tree, sharing that special moment of togetherness.

Those organizing Christmas baskets wish this spirit of giving and solidarity would continue past December 25 and last all year long. Those ravaged by war hope the often shaky Christmas truce becomes permanent peace.

Christmas touches each one of us profoundly, perhaps more deeply than any other holiday in the year. The values of peace, love and sharing play a predominant role at this festive time. The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ becomes a source of profound joy. Jesus Christ is the sign and presence of God’s love among us and for us.

Often in the Christmas rush where commercialization is omnipresent and overwhelming, we can forget exactly what it is we celebrate on December 25, just as we might not always remember it is the anniversary of Christ’s Incarnation that will be celebrated as we enter the third millennium.

Fortunately, Christ is always present in our midst, in his Word and in his Church. Sometimes, when one looks at the world around us that has become so secularized, one might believe the opposite. However, just ask a child to tell you about Jesus. You will hear that Jesus is full of love and compassion for others, especially for those in need. And perhaps this child will also tell you we must all love and help one another. In only a few words, children can tell us about what is at the core of Christ’s message: love.

This message of love is for all people and all times. Even the Declaration of Human Rights, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, can be summarized in the words, “Love one another.”

These words may not have penetrated the hearts of all humans — conflicts, wars, violence, and persecutions bear witness to this. But at least they cause the most hardened hearts to pause. Each Christmas season sees truces observed, peace accords, and pardons.

If Christmas could only last all year long! Even where there are no flashing coloured lights or decorated trees to be seen in windows, one can see signs of the spirit of Christmas in the world. The solidarity being shown to the victims of Hurricane Mitch in Central America. The aid for those in last winter’s ice storm. The calls for peace around the world. The growing movement to forgive the debt of the poorest countries. These are all signs of the spirit of love and sharing that illustrates this feast of Christmas.

The angel proclaimed to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” We too are invited not to be afraid to live the joy of Christmas, and to proclaim this good news all year long.

Merry Christmas!

+ Jean Claude Cardinal Turcotte
Archbishop of Montreal
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops