Christmas – What a Blessing!

Have you ever been confronted by the question, “What’s really important?”

I recently went to visit my mum. She is 86 years old and lives in a low care retirement village, meaning that there are nurses and staff to help her while she is able to live relatively independently.

I recently visited mum and was sitting talking with her when all of a sudden she said to me, “Where’s Bruce? I never see him any more. He never comes to visit me.”

I quickly replied, “You don’t see Bruce mum?” to which she replied, “No, I don’t see him anymore and I don’t know where he is.”

A little stunned I said to mum, “So, who am I mum?” I had been talking to her for the past half an hour, to which she replied, without missing a beat “You are Bruce.”

Mum has dementia. Slowly she is becoming more forgetful and disorientated.

It seems like only yesterday that I remember this vibrant woman who looked after my four brothers and I with a vitality and energy that seemed never ending. We were her world and she cared for us without complaint and it seemed that no effort was too much effort.

While I know she knew the truth in mum’s eyes her five boys could do no wrong. If you asked mum anytime if we were good boys, her response was that we were “perfect. That we never fought. We did everything asked of us. That we were model children.”

This is not my recollection of my brothers or of me. Mum seemed to always look past our faults and loved us unreasonably.

So often we can see God in the people and circumstances in our lives.

God looks at us and loves us unreasonably not because we deserve it but because of who He is.

He looks past our faults, weaknesses, frailties and inconsistencies and just sees us with the love of a perfect parent which none of us are, including my devoted mother.

So devoted was God the Father that He did not want our weaknesses to separate us from being in full relationship with Him. Because of this He sent His Son that first Christmas to bring a new

Kingdom, a new way of thinking, a new way of being and to deal once and for all with what separated us from God – Human sinfulness.

Christmas was and is a declaration of God’s commitment to us. Even though we live in a world full of terrors, sadness, challenges and injustices that we cannot explain or even justify, we can say Emmanuel – God is with us.

The Kingdom brought into the world by Jesus that Christmas and every Christmas- which requires a special kind of eyesight – the eyes of faith, says life is more than what we see about us or read in the papers and on the web or on the television. The kingdom of Jesus is one that is eternal and everlasting where the weak are lifted up, the first will be last and the last will be first, the poor receive and the hidden are seen. It is a kingdom where the ‘haves’ are NOT more powerful or honoured. Than the “have nots “

In this kingdom a personal, powerful and everyday relationship with God through Jesus is possible, is essential, and is for you today. And it all started at Christmas.

Take a moment to ask Jesus to come to you amidst all the activity of Christmas and reveal Himself to you in your thoughts, emotions and through the people that you meet and hear from.

A relationship with Jesus is, as Pope Benedict XVI said, ”first and foremost an encounter with a person.”

If you feel far from Jesus this Christmas do as I do and say, “Jesus come to me. I want to find you, know you and live with you. I want your guidance. I so often know the right thing to do and I so often choose otherwise. Help me to be who you desire me to be and who I want to be.”

Christmas is a time of happiness and joy because of Jesus coming to give us new life.

I was on a plane the other day and I noticed that the passengers were very noisy. When I looked around I was surrounded by children heading somewhere with their parents to celebrate Christmas.

Children laughed, were surprised by the bumps, loved the food and watched the inflight television screens all the time overseen by a loving parent or guardian. This was my mum all those years ago. Always present, often forgotten by my brothers and I but there to protect, guide and love.

A lot like God really who is coming into our world this Christmas.

Rosemary and I wish you a blessed and holy Christmas.

And remember this Christmas that no matter wherever you are around the world that God is never far from you.

 Christmas – What a Blessing!

26 Comments

  1. Helen | | Reply

    I was so touched….Have a Lovely Christmas & a Blessed New Year!

  2. Attila Lendvai | | Reply

    Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for your Christmas message. You seem to bring God’s message so simply into our lives. Thank you for what you have done for me. I know that my life has changed for the better after our Catholic Guy Event. Your simple expression of surrendering to Jesus, being open to God’s voice and asking for faith have become my daily prayer set to the melody of the CD I purchased. May your and your family’s Christmas be blessed with grace and Peace and may the joy of Jesus’ birth be ever in your heart.

    Attila

  3. John McKeough | | Reply

    Thanks Bruce

    Happy Christmas to you and your family

  4. Barbara | | Reply

    Thank you!
    I would like to express my gratitude for your work/mission and love. I find your messages very inspirational. Receiving your faithful e-mails became a strong base for my private reflections and even more, a true support at difficult times.
    Have a wonderful Christmas, full of love, good spirits and smiles all around. God bless!
    Barb

  5. Chantelle | | Reply

    Hi catholic guy
    I will be ok and just know that you did meet me and I have brain injury and I doing good and some times I am like your mum .
    Thank you for share this with me from Chantelle fletcher !

  6. Jo | | Reply

    Thank you Bruce. That is a great way to explain God’s love for us and how He views us. So often I feel not good enough. Thank you.

    God Bless you and your work.

  7. Damien Duncan | | Reply

    Thanks Bruce for your messages and your ministry. Have a joyful and peaceful Christmas to you and all your family, with love Damien and Michelle Duncan.

  8. Jacqui Scholte | | Reply

    What a beautifulnChristmas message…….thank you.

    We in turn wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas with you and your family. May he continue to walk with you in your precious work.
    May the church continue to be renewed with the power of your message about the immediacy, the nearness, the love of God.

  9. Peter Skinner | | Reply

    Hi Bruce,
    I hope you and Rosemary have a holy festive Season.

  10. Lynette Dickson | | Reply

    Hi Bruce

    I’ve read you message. It took me a while to get to do it but did not delete it beforei had a read. I wonder if you will ever consider having another Mission at Mater Christi parish in Yangebup. I thoroughly enjoyed the last one you had there. God bless you for the wonderful work you do.

    Lynette

  11. Wendy Whiteman | | Reply

    Thank you Bruce , after your visit to Woy Woy, my life changed. I had a special message from God ; you may remember the person who saw the cross!!!

    Hard work now, keeping up with this special presence but trying hard with help of the Lord to fulfill all He wants of me. In the business of Christmas Day celebrations I really needed to say to myself “Be with me Lord and let me remember your presence”. Sometimes hard in such a heady atmosphere.

  12. Sylvia Vassallo | | Reply

    A very timely message!! Thank you. It gives hope and meaning and the proper perspective to this time of the year.
    May God continue to Bless you and the good work you do.

  13. Tom Davey | | Reply

    Dementia is a terrible thing. It is sad about your Mum, at times the correct sentences do not come out e.g. She probably meant to ask you about someone else and because she was talking to you she mentioned your name instead. I have no doubt that deep down she knew who you were Bruce. My thoughts are with you mate and I will pray for her and your family. My very best wishes for the festive season to you and the family. You are some Guy and you do a great job, you have been given this gift from up above, God Bless you. Talk to you soon.

    Tom Davey,
    Sunshine Coast, Qld.

  14. Christine | | Reply

    Thank you for this very beautiful message. May the light of Christ continue to glow bright in your heart forever.

    Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

  15. alison aldrich | | Reply

    great message, thank you.

  16. Made leine Pierre | | Reply

    Interesting to read about your mother’s love and care for her family. Bruce ,my best wishes to you and your beautiful family. I enjoy the peace of Christmas despite the trials I go through.didnt the angels say to the shepherds : Glory to god in heaven and peace on earth to people of good will . The peace brought within us by the birth the birth of Jesus gives glory to God and strengthen us.

  17. JUDY mcINERNEY | | Reply

    happy newyear to you both. Your story is so what life is all about or should be unconditional love Jesus just watches and waits. I too have four sons and a daughter and are 82, and just see in this changing world to me at least the difficulties that confront families, mine certainly no exception, but I pray that they inside know who Jesus is and know His love is everlasting, He just watches and waits. Anyway thank you for your letters and I thank God for the life He has given us, and can recognise Him even still in your Mum, with His arms around her. God Bless you and the good work you all do. Praise the Lord,

  18. Grant | | Reply

    Hiya Bruce,
    Just discovered you on ACC last night. So I thought I would check your website out. Thank you for ministry.

    Blessings from
    somebody just about ready to cross the Tiber

  19. Laura Tonus | | Reply

    Hello Bruce,

    I read your message and it touched me greatly, I shed a few tears, it was so touching to hear of your loving mother, I feel the same about my teenage children, they give me lots of love and I enjoy watching them grow into adults. Thank you for sharing your beautiful message of God he is truly our saviour. God Bless

    Laura.

  20. brenda sweet | | Reply

    Sending you and your family a blessed Xmas and many thanks for all your encouraging emails.We often need to be reminded of our parents and to thank them for all we are today . God bless you and your team

  21. Gorata Lekoko | | Reply

    What a good read…Merry Xmas and a Prosperous year ahead to you Bruce, family and your catholic congregations.

    Thanks heaps

  22. Georgia.Martins | | Reply

    Dear Mr &Mrs Downs,
    Thank you so much for your most Beautiful and touching family story .Unfortunately this story is getting so familiar because the incidence of this disease is getting higher and higher and a lot of families are hurting a lot .My husband is a professor of Alzheimer’s and Aging and he decided to go into this field of research when he saw how my dad ,who was an intelligent and cheerful person lost his memory and faculties so fast. A lot of Research work had progressed in this field and now with a lot of Researchers from all over the world collaborating with one another ,hopefully a cure or a delay in the onset of the disease could be found . The next time when you are in Perth and if you want I will give you the book that Ralph and a few Researchers had put together . I pray that our Good Lord shower this most Beautiful and most Generous and GIVING person and your family with Very Special Blessings.A very Happy and Holy Christmas and a New Year to you all.

  23. Melrose Ferreira | | Reply

    Bruce, I returned from an overseas holiday, on Monday, and I just saw your email. Thank you so much.

    May the Infant Jesus shower His blessings on you and your family today and always.

    God Bless,
    Melrose

  24. www.viagrabelgiquefr.com | | Reply

    Thank you for including the lovely pictures– so vulnerable to a sense of reflection.

  25. DEAR BRUCE, I AM IMMENSELY HELPED BY YOUR REFLECTIONS, AND CONVICTIONS. I AM A JESUIT PRIEST IN PATNA, BIHAR CLOSE TO NEPAL, 3000 KMS FROM MY HOME IN KERALA. BRUCE COULD WE FIND SIX OR SEVEN PEOPLE WHO WILL ENJOY SUPPORTING MY MISSION WORK HERE IN SOME SMALL WAY. PLEASE PRAY. IF IT IS GOD’S WILL LET IT OPEN UP.
    IF IT IS NOT POSSIBLE, I TAKE IT AS THE WILL OF GOD. IF IT IS POSSIBLE, I AM IMMENSELY GRATEFUL.

  26. Robyn Burgess | | Reply

    i am pleased your self and family had a nice
    christmas Bruce

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