The effectiveness of p olitics and economics should be measured in how they respond to the needs of the poor and the marginalised, t he Archbishop of Dublin has said.
Diarmuid Martin also c alled on massgoers to remember those who are poor and lonely over the festive season.
In his homily at Midnight Mass in Dublin's Pro Cathedral, Archbishop Martin said the story of Christmas is fascinating and makes people stop and think and realise that life is deeper than its commercialised depiction.
"Christmas is not just a day, it is a way of life, where day after day the focus of politics and economics - and above all the choices we all make in our own daily lives - always contain within them - and not just as something external and extra - a preferential love for the poor," he said.
"Politics and economics are at the service of people and their true effectiveness is to be discerned and measured - before, during and after austerity - in how they respond to the needs of the poor and the marginalised."
The Archbishop said Christmas spontaneously releases generosity and he thanked those who donated 70 tons of food to his Crosscare Food Bank appeal for families who might otherwise not have had enough to eat.
He said tonight there will be parents with meagre means who are bringing happiness to their children with small gestures.
"Today and tomorrow the loneliness of many who live on their own will be brightened up by someone who calls on them; the hearts of many mothers and fathers will be warmed up this night by that long-awaited phone call from a sadly-missed son and daughter who had to emigrate," he added.
"It is not enough to talk or philosophise about the poor: the follower of Jesus must meet the poor and know in their hearts what poverty and loneliness mean."