Bishop Noonan reflects on God’s love at the heart of the Christmas message

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Put on love.  Name your favorite piece of clothing, your most comfortable outfit; the one in which you feel best.  Put on love.  This is how God’s love comes to us and should be within us, more comfortable than our most comfortable clothes.  God’s love is the essence of our being for we are created by God for God.

God’s love is at the heart of the Christmas message.  God the Father has such a desire to be ours that he offers His only Son, Jesus, to walk among us.  While the birth of Jesus took place almost 2000 years ago, he remains with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit within the Sacraments.  The Eucharist is the most treasured gift for we receive His Real Presence as we are spiritually nourished.  Through the Sacraments, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity becomes our being as we are as Christ to one another.

Mary, our Blessed Mother, conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ.  She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross.  Mary is the star of hope for us.  She has gone before us in the journey of life, yet she walks the path of hope leading us toward her beloved Son, Our Lord.

Pope Francis said, “Mary is the mother of hope, in the midst of that community of such fragile disciples:  one had denied, many had fled, all had been afraid.  She simply stood by, in the most natural of ways, as if it were something completely normal:  in the first Church enveloped in the light of the Resurrection, but also in the trepidation of the first steps that had to be taken in the world.”

Mary invites us to take our first steps in the beauty of Christmas joy, the birth of a child! and to put on the love of Her Son, clothe ourselves in the richness of this treasure and join her in the unity of the Holy Family, with Joseph, her spouse, and with all the people, near and afar, those who have gone before us and those who are yet to come; the Holy Family of the faithful of God.  We commit to putting on God’s love as we partake in the Sacrament of Baptism.  The Eucharist continues to flourish this bond of perfection all the days of our life.

Put on love.  It is not as easy as putting on your most comfortable clothing.  Like Mary and Joseph’s journey to be registered, the first steps call us to the virtue of waiting, even when everything seems to lack meaning.  Putting on God’s love means hearing God’s whisper in the most difficult moments.  It is a journey from the head to the heart, one in which we yearn to be cradled by God’s arms that we might hold others within the sweetness of His light.  These steps must be taken toward God’s people, to draw them in, as Mary and Joseph, strangers and aliens, hoped they would be drawn in by the innkeeper.  They are made with haste, not to rush, but because of the importance of the message to be delivered, that God’s Peace reign upon all the people.

Be thankful.  Believe in God.  Put on love.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John Noonan
Bishop of Orlando

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.

Col 3:12-15