Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

At this time of year, many of our young people are enjoying the story of the Grinch, the furry green Dr. Seuss character who tries to ‘steal Christmas,’ only to be thwarted by the love of a child. In many ways, the story captures the reality of the suffering of many people today. The Grinch felt alone, abandoned and unwanted in an orphanage, and that led him to close in on himself and away from all association with others.

But it is also a story of transformation, thanks to an encounter with a little child who did not give up on him, who led him to realize that he was actually appreciated and wanted for who he was, unconditionally. A deep desire for such unconditional acceptance is what animates the hearts of all of us.

The link with the Christmas story of the Gospel is obvious. It announces the coming of God as a child in order to redeem us from ourselves, to save us from the self-imposed isolation from both God and others occasioned by the harm of sin. The child is none other than the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who has made himself one of us in order to encounter us, so that in that encounter we might discover the joyful truth of both God and ourselves. In the encounter with Christ, we discover ourselves, and in that discovery, learn that, in the eyes of God, we are loved, wanted and considered necessary - and all of that without condition.

Little Cindy Lou’s persistence allowed the Grinch to encounter the meaning of love. That encounter led him from self-isolation to self-gift, to be a gift for others. His transformation was gradual, yes, but because of the child's persistence, it did happen.

God does not give up on us. He never gives up on us. In the encounter with the child born at Bethlehem, we discover Love itself. God is love, is what the Scriptures teach us. God's grace reaches us in the sacraments and works upon our self-isolation, gently but with persistence, summoning us and enabling us to live no longer for ourselves but for Jesus and for his people by making ourselves a gift for others. In a life of self-gift in Christ, we live as we are intended to live and we discover real joy.

As we recall and celebrate the timeless story of Christmas this year, may it be for all of us a genuine encounter with God who made himself human in order to transform and save us by a love that will never give up on us.

God bless, and Merry Christmas to all.

Archbishop Richard Smith