Christmas is a time of many journeys. I have recently finished a five week journey visiting all twenty five parishes that make up our Diocese. My route took me from Oban all through the Western Isles, Inner Hebrides, Lochaber, Argyll, Badenoch and right down to the Clydeside Islands and towns. It was a varied journey – thousands of miles by road and boat. In each parish I celebrated Mass, met with the priest and parishioners and enjoyed pastoral activities like visiting the housebound, hospitals, schools and houses. I certainly put on a few pounds with the Highland hospitality!

My trip was tiring but very uplifting. I frequently marvelled at the beauty of God’s Creation but also had to submit to the power of wind and snow! Of course, the crowning glory of Creation is humanity. Everywhere I was very impressed by the lovely people whom I met. Many were no strangers to struggle but I was constantly inspired by people’s generosity of loving service. Likewise, I was encouraged by those whose deep faith in God shone out. The challenges to Faith today are well known but there are still countless people who love and trust God and are quietly and selflessly building the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Christmas is a time of journey. Many of our young people will be travelling home at Christmas to be with family. In the first Christmas Mary and Joseph made an important journey to Bethlem. Likewise the shepherds and Magi travelled to the stable. Afterwards, the Holy Family made a journey of flight into Egypt. Central, of course, was the ‘journey’ of Jesus from heaven to earth.

It is good for us to remember that we all are journeying through life. On this journey God is both our companion and destination. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus taking on human nature to redeem us. Let us allow Jesus to be reborn in our hearts today. Let us constantly walk with the Lord. Similarly, over Christmas, as we make short or distant journeys to be with loved ones may we be inspired to always accompany others.

I wish you all a joyful and faith filled Christmas.