NEW YORK — On a night when Catholics are asked to reflect on the mystery of God becoming man, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said that Christmas is an occasion to “marvel at the wonder of the universe,” from the unborn child to the vastness of creation.
During his homily at midnight Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Ireland, Martin channeled Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ where he argues that “everything is connected” in his efforts to nudge all people of goodwill to work together for care of creation.
Martin made a similar case, stating, “The Christmas story reminds us that, although we are small and frail, with the grace of God, and our ‘yes,’ like Mary’s, to God’s will in our lives…we can be transformed and in turn we can help to change the world for the better!”
“On this Christmas night, as we marvel at the wonder of the universe, let us pledge to care for Planet Earth, our common home, by being less wasteful, and more conscious of the damage that we can do to our environment by selfish living,” he continued.
Just days after the president of Ireland signed into law a bill which legalized abortion, the primate of All Ireland said that Christ’s birth is a chance to “gaze in wonder and awe at God’s presence in the newborn infant Jesus, let us bring to mind children who bring so much joy and happiness into our lives.”
“We pray that all children — born and unborn — will be protected from violence, trafficking, abuse, abortion, neglect or exploitation,” he said.
In the lead up to last May’s referendum in which the nation voted to do away with its restrictions on abortion, Martin was one of the most vocal Catholic prelates against the initiative.
“As we reflect on the Christ’s birth in the poverty of the stable, may we always be thankful for the food we have to eat, for our health, and for the warmth and security of a home; may we be more conscious of those less fortunate — the poor and the hungry, the sick, the lonely,” he pleaded.
In what could be a nod to this past August’s World Meeting of Families, where Ireland played host to the Vatican-organized family festival that takes place every three years, concluding with a weekend visit by Francis, Martin paid special tribute to the significance of families.
“As we contemplate this Christmas the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us pray for our family members at home or away, and spare a thought for families who are wounded or separated by war and violence, distrust or relationship breakdown,” he said.
In concluding his homily, he turned once more to the pope’s plea in Laudato si’.
“All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty,” he prayed.
“Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one,” he concluded.