Christmas Eve

An ordinary person

Last Sunday, the Roman Catholic Church declared that Mary MacKillop is to be made a saint of that Church. Why should we be bothered, on this of all days?

I think we should cheer this decision. Mary MacKillop was a pioneer of education for poor children, and a feisty woman who stood up to church authorities when she disagreed with them, and was even excommunicated for a time. She’s the kind of Australian many of us would admire, someone who embodies aspects of the Australian character.

One Australian Archbishop said, ‘She was one of us. Mary was an ordinary person who lived a holy life.’ Wow, what a thing to say about anyone. ‘An ordinary person’—an ordinary Aussie—becomes a saint.

For this woman to be made a saint says something about the Australian character: it says it is possible for a real Aussie to be an example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born an ordinary human being as well. Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also as human as you and I are. He grew as a child. He wept, he wondered, he sang. He grew tired and hungry, he knew happiness and sorrow, joy and grief.

But in all this, he was true to God his heavenly Father at all times. It’s good at Christmas time to remember that Jesus didn’t stay a baby. Let’s not be seduced by the baby smile, so that we think that’s all there is. Jesus came that we might know God through him. Jesus came to teach the ways of God. Jesus came to show the great love of God, love that would eventually take him to the cross.

Jesus came to make disciples. And the world needs disciples for Jesus badly. It’s great that Mary MacKillop has finally been recognised. Go online soon, look at her life. She was a dynamo for Jesus.

And Jesus needs us to follow him too. He needs us in all our human ‘ordinary-ness’ to make a difference to the world in his name.

We celebrate his birth tonight and tomorrow, and I hope we do it with style. But don’t let it be for nothing. Let your life reflect his life. Follow him from this night onward.

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Filed under church year, sermon

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