2016 will not be remembered among the years that celebrate the best of human nature. Despite remarkable successes in celebrating our own painful past, we have heard of much tragedy and brutality.
And for his message on the Fiftieth World Day of Peace, Pope Francis may seem to be a voice crying in the wilderness when he writes that violence is not the cure for our broken world. He describes Christian non-violence as "an attitude of one who is so convinced of God's love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of truth and love alone."
God-made-flesh is not just a nice story about the past. It speaks of a God who still believes in us – even when events might suggest that we are incapable of creating a peaceful world, worthy of human dignity.
As we move on from the Year of Mercy and prepare for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018, I pray that people of faith may work, not to defend privilege or avenge persecution, but to pour the balm of mercy on the world's self-inflicted wounds. And I hope that we can use the emphasis on the family, not to stigmatise anybody but to celebrate that wonderful human capacity for faithfulness over self-indulgence, for forgiveness over revenge and for grace over sin.
We do that because we celebrate, not so much our New Year resolutions, as our faith in a God who still has a dream for us, a God who remains hopelessly hopeful for what we can become with his grace. I wish everyone in our diocese a blessed and energising 2017.