The star of Bethlehem is one of the best known and best loved symbols of the Christmas story.

‘.... they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy..’

                                                                                                            - Matthew 2:9-10

There is something consoling about this image of the star which leads us and guides us through the uncertainties and detours of life.

As members of the St Vincent de Paul Society, as people who, like the Magi, are searching for Christ, we especially take heart from the image of the star of Bethlehem.

We all need something to give us guidance, to give us a strong point of reference, a compass. I don’t mean a rigid, fundamentalist system. This is where the letter of the law becomes an end in itself instead of a guiding star leading us to the presence of Christ.

And that, when all is said and done, is what we are here for: to make sure that everything that we do is focussed on the poor, and therefore on Jesus; that everything we are is based completely on this journey towards Christ by making our lives a journey alongside the poor and marginalised towards a future built on justice and compassion.

As I write this the Commonwealth Government has just announced the establishment of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. We are saddened that there is a need for this. The reality, however, is that there is a need for this. Christ told us: ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me’. Any kind of abuse of children is a profoundly serious offence against Christ precisely because it is an offence against humanity.

As I write we are also seeing the terrible tragedy unfold in the Middle East with innocent children being injured and killed in Gaza.

There is so much to be sad about, which is all the more reason why we should joyfully place ourselves on the side of peace, justice, healing and love. We should seek with all our hearts the presence of Christ, the presence of the Divine in our hurt and broken humanity. We can do this only if we follow our Star.

Anthony Thornton, National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society

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