Dec 28, 2022


Surrounded by presents and tinsel, peaceful nativity scenes and Christmas goodwill, it is easy to forget the full reality of the Christmas event.

Today’s feast of the Holy Innocents remind us of the most significant trial this new family faced.  As the madman Herod used some of his last breaths to overcome the new King of the Jews’ at his birth, Joseph and Mary fled to the safety of Egypt.

Most reflections for this feast will helpfully focus on the literal reason for the feast – the vulnerability of children in the face of adult fear and corruption.

One of Pope Francis’ books, A Stranger and You Welcomed Me: A Call to Mercy and Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees features a work of art by iconographer Kelly Latimore on the cover.

This work bridges the distance between Joseph, Mary and Jesus making the treacherous journey to safety in Egypt, and the many homeless travellers today. I think of many who have arrived in Aotearoa in recent years seeking freedom and work, and the often shy response, even resistance they may experience from neighbours and workmates.

Latimore’s work moves me as I notice vulnerability not only in the small child but also the new parents Joseph and Mary.

Healthy people are aware of their vulnerability.

And I’m reminded that it doesn’t take too much insight to notice vulnerability in every person, perhaps especially those who at first glance seem most in-control and successful.

Yes, the poor and the vulnerable have a special place in the heart of Jesus. And this also means that my own vulnerability, my own poverty, my neediness, are the stable in which God is eager to become incarnate in and for me.

Of course we spend much of our time and energy resisting our weakness and need, but perhaps for a few hours today we could look at ourselves with the gaze of Jesus, the same tender vision we easily use when we meet the vulnerability of a child.


  1. You give us so Many nice and new ways of looking at the biblical e vents surrounding the infant life of Jesus. Thank you, john Br.

  2. I really liked today’s reflection; and the stunning portrait attached, wow, relevance! I’m new to this site, I hope I can save today’ s reflection to read and think over now and then. You so aptly identified our preoccupations – but ‘metaphored’ them into the stable to receive Jesus.
    Thankyou, and Pp Francis’s reflections. emd

  3. Thank you, Father John, for your inspirational and soul-searching reflections again this year.

    ‘Vulnerability’ this morning offered me an in-depth mirror to view myself and my commitments, particularly over the last 18 months.

    Latinore’s artistic depiction of the heart of Pope Francis’s writings connects wholeheartedly to the Spirit of vulnerable people.

    My role as Counsellor for traumatized Tamariki and Rangatahi has epitomized for me the essence of vulnerability … I have learned that vulnerability is indeed the essence of connection and that connection is the essence of existence.

    Your insightful reflection today reminds me that the compassionate vision we easily use when we meet a vulnerable ‘child’ is the innate love within each one of us and parallels the holy ‘stable’.

    Blessings to you in return, Father John, in the abundance of Love, Life, and Light at this sacred time of renewal.

  4. Powerful.

  5. We are all so vulnerable
    Even when life is going well and we feel its all sorted, there is always another curve ball just around the corner.
    We can only live our lives continually at the feet of Jesus

  6. Thankyou Fr. John for a beautiful reflection today! And a soul searching piece of Art depicting the Holy Family.
    I pray it will be a reminder to me in meeting people of other nationalities in my “go to places>” How vulnerable are those who come to createa new life in New Zealand.

  7. Thank you Fr.John! Over the last 2 yrs all bpeople have been so vunrable during the out break of Covid all over the world – I would think that never before have we needed strengh from Jesus so much. May we constantly ask His help! God bless you.

  8. Thank you, Father John for this very apt reflection for me who accompanies newly-arrived refugees to ANZ. I’ve found it so helpful for myself to reflect on this last day of 2022, my own vulnerability, and neediness. Many thanks, for your reflections over these days. Blessings to you for the New Year 2023.


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