closer is easier

Dec 26, 2022


Yesterday at a Christmas morning Mass I got to hear one of the best Christmas homilies I have heard in a long time.

It has become a bit of a trend for a Christmas preacher to borrow a baby as a visual-aid for the homily, and to hold the baby while talking about Jesus as unexpectedly becoming present among us as little, helpless and vulnerable baby.

It was a good point when I first heard it many years ago but perhaps has become a bit overworked and predictable?

Yesterday’s preacher began his reflection with a few great thoughts, perhaps two or three minutes of on-the-mark encouragements. Then he walked to the aisle and asked if he could borrow one of the many babies present.

I knew what was coming.

Well I thought I knew.

We’ve been here before and I thought I knew the punch-line.

The priest began this second part of his homily holding the baby awkwardly at a distance. I could read the faces and minds of the experienced parents in the church, some probably whispering discreetly to each other with a smile: “that’s how a Catholic priest holds a baby!”

Within a few moments of taking the child the priest commented: “my arms are getting tired, but that’s because I am holding the baby at arms length. If I hold the baby close then my arms do not tire and I could hold the baby all day.”

He then brought the baby close, against his chest, and we all relaxed, and smiled, and understood.

In the next minute he concluded, in case anyone had not already got the point, saying that most of the time most of us hold Jesus at a distance, and it feels like hard work to be Christian. But when we hold Jesus close, when we let Him hold us close, we find ourselves able to relax, and to live intimately in this divine relationship forever.

I appreciate those who comment that living as a fully-committed Christian, desiring to live every moment in relationship with Jesus Christ, is hard work. Well life is not easy, but my experience has taught me that living in relationship with Jesus with my entire heart, soul and mind is the easiest of all life’s options.

If you don’t believe me, decide now to live fully in relationship with Jesus, heart, soul, and mind,  100% for the next 24 hours. Hold Him close. Let Him hold you close. Speak to him often, a dozen times an hour, informal and intimate. Do nothing that feels like movement away from this embrace. Simply remain in His love.

I guarantee you will experience a remarkable difference in your life. within an hour or two.

Try it – starting with a decision right now.







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  1. Well, I don’t know much about holding babies, John. I am lost in admiration for those who do, and feed, and care, and don’t get much sleep…. presumably Joseph and Mary, too?

    However, I need to learn more the point that “the baby holds me”!

    1Jn.4:10. It’s not about my / our love for God, but God’s love for me / us….

    • Phil if we start by holding the baby close as he grows we learn until we start to realise who this baby truely is and the roles reverse for us.
      Think of the poem
      Footprints in the Sand
      Start with holding Jesus close

      One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:
”LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me.”
The LORD replied:
”My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
      Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty

  2. Beautiful reflection Fr John. A blessed and joyful Christmas to you.

  3. Christmas Blessings Fr John and your team…in Carmel, Megan

  4. Thank you for the daily inspirational faith guides We said the Grace at our Christmas meal and this was much appreciated. God Bless and prayers. Margaret.

  5. Yes, the image of holding a child is beautiful, BUT I do question your suggestion of talking to Jesus a dozen times an hour. I think it would drive me crackers.


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