Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Homily 2004

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone we learn about the Mirror of Erised. When someone looks into this mirror, he or she sees not only their relfection, but also their deepest desires. The wizard Dumbledore warns Harry not to gaze into the Mirror for too long. Men have died looking into the mirror, he tells him, obsessed with what they do not have. And he adds – the person who is truly happy looks into the mirror and seem themselves as they really are – no more and no less.

It is not a Christmas story, perhaps, but the Mirror of Erised can tell us a great deal about how we celebrate Christmas. For too many people the celebration of Christmas is about desire, about wish lists and gifts, about having and getting. We fool ourselves that if only we could meet all these desires, then we will be truly happy. It is a sure recipe for misery, for there will always be something we do not have.

By contrast, the Christ child was born in poverty, his family became asylum seekers in a foreign land, and after a short life, deserted by friends, he came to suffer terribly for the message of love and forgiveness which he preached.

And yet, the angels sing glory, the shepherds rush to the stable, the kings travel long miles to adore him, and today two thousand years and as many miles distant, we too remember. True happiness lies not in seeking things which we do not have, but in recognising the glory, the beauty and the love in the many blessings which God has given us.