Archbishop Eamon Martin has urged Christians to keep migrants at the centre of their thoughts this Christmas, comparing their plight to that faced by Christ in the days after his birth.
In a joint Christmas message with Church of Ireland Primate Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop Eamon reminds believers that “Jesus Christ became, for a time, a migrant child”.
“The story of Christmas, the archbishops write, is “the story of someone who does not fit easily into neat categories”.
Jesus “and his family fled to a foreign country because their lives were at risk. The plight of so many hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the world today gives us all cause for thought.
“If our concern with our own identity allows us to think of others as less worthy of God’s love, or less in his heart of love than are we, then we are both deluded and dangerous. But Christmas, with its message of joy and hope, is a celebration of the real identity we all share in the love of Jesus Christ for us,” the message continues.
On the theme of identity, the Primates note that “the world at the end of 2016 seems a very different place than it did at this time last year.
“People speak of a profound and pervasive sense of uncertainty and insecurity all around us. Many are now finding themselves asking questions about their identity in a new and bewildered way. Is our deepest identity to be found in the local setting, or in a wider context? How local a setting, and how much wider a context?”
The message points out that “from a Christian perspective, our fullest identity is found in our being children of God, an identity we share with everyone on this planet.
“This is the central message of the Gospel and it is presented with a supreme clarity in the Christmas story. God comes among us in the person of Jesus Christ, not as an outsider but as fully human and with a perfect love for all humankind,” the archbishops say.