The Christmas Story
In the Vatican City, Pope Benedict, who was elected last April 19 to succeed Pope John Paul II, expressed today before his congregation that "Where there is love, light shines forth in the world; where there is hatred, the world remains in darkness."
One of the prayers read during the mass asked that all those who recognise Abraham as the father of their faith, Muslims, Jews and Christians, "practice reciprocal respect, with works of justice and peace".
While the 78-year-old German-born Pope ushering in his first Christmas as Pontiff, today urged the world's Catholics to be beacons of peace in a troubled world and offered a special prayer for an end to strife in the Holy Land, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church will use his Christmas Day sermon today to pay tribute to the Christian forgiveness shown by two people whose families suffered from horrific acts of violence in 2005 in England.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will give during the traditional service at Canterbury Cathedral the example of Gee Walker, the mother of a black teenage student murdered in a racist axe attack in Liverpool in July, who won admirers across the country after said she would forgive her son's killers and Sheila Hollins, whose pregnant daughter Abigail Witchalls was paralysed in an unprovoked knife attack on a country lane in southern England in April, when she spoke of enormous sadness she felt for the man responsible, who killed himself days afterwards.
"His death is the real tragedy in this story," she had said.
The Archbishop will also say that celebrating Christmas was important because it marked the moment when the world was no longer a place in which the sanctity of life was an alien concept.
"You may or may not believe what Christian doctrine says about the child in the manger but you will, consciously or not, be looking at the human world in a framework that Jesus Christ made possible," Williams goes on to say.
"If we ever do come to forget not just the Christmas story but what it made possible, the arrival of a different humanity, there is enough, sadly, in our idle and self-obsessed hearts to let the ancient world begin to creep back a little more."
Let none of us give in to idle, self-obsessed hearts.