The Christmas season more than any other time of the year is an occasion for parties.  Businesses have parties, schools have parties, families have parties, friends have parties.  Almost everybody gives or attends at least one party at Christmas time.  Nobody is naive enough to think that all of these parties reflect the true meaning of Christmas.  For all of the centuries that Christmas has been a season of celebration it is good to know that our Lord’s birth is still the inspiration of more festivities than any other event in history. A lot of Christmases have come and gone since Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  There is something about it that reminds us of how life ought to be for the rest of the year.  Christmas is the memory of the birth of Jesus, but it is much more.  It is a call to become His partner in bringing love, compassion, peace and all that is of God to birth in our families, in our friendships, in our community and in our Church.  Christmas is a success, we might say, if Christ is born in our hearts this month and in the heart of society, but He will be born in the heart of society only if He is born in the life and heart of each one of us. We are living in a world where there is an over-supply of sadness and a critical shortage of joy.  We can see it everywhere.  How many people do you know whom you regard as genuinely happy?  What percentage of our days are characterised by a genuine sense of joy?  An honest answer to either of these questions would probably reveal how badly we need the Christmas season.  It is a time, when at least for a little while, we are confronted and challenged by concept of joy.  Even with the traffic jams and crowded stores, people are more friendly and courteous to one another.  May the Lord bring His gift of joy and peace this Christmas to us and to all we meet.                                                                                                             Fr John