archbishopMM.jpeg If we take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, it can transform, not just a few days at the end of the year, but our whole lives. We remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the Nativity reproduced each year in numerous plays and presentations and recreated through the centuries in countless works of art, the stable with Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus, visited by shepherds and wise men.

It is right that we should remember and celebrate in this way, but sometimes our celebrations can lose sight of the reality of that cold winter's night two thousand years ago: Mary and Joseph far from home, living in a land ruled by an occupying power, forced to travel to Bethlehem to take part in a census, nowhere for them to stay until an innkeeper let them use a stable, shepherds looking after their flocks on a dark hillside with no light and no warmth, and wise men who travelled afar from a great distance, in the hope of seeing the Saviour. Then, suddenly, a transformation as darkness became light: A child is born; shepherds, at first cowering and scared, have a vision of angels bringing tidings of great joy; for 'today a Saviour has been born to us, he is Christ the Lord'.

Christmas transforms lives today too, especially if it inspires us to give those around us, to people who are on their own at Christmas, or by visiting the housebound and the sick in hospital or at home. We can make welcome those, who like Mary and Joseph, are far from home, those seeking asylum, those in prison, and members of the Armed Forces who must be apart from their loved ones.

On Christmas Day we hear the account of the Nativity showing us what God's love means for us today: Let us recognise His love so that our lives may be transformed.

With my prayers and every good wish for a happy and peaceful Christmas.

+ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool