Bishop’s Letter: Christmas 2020

A holy day has dawned upon us.
Come, you nations, and adore the Lord.

For today a great light has come upon the earth.

Gospel Acclamation: Christmas Day

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Blessings to you this holy season of Christmas!  It strikes me that we experienced our season of Advent more intimately these past weeks as we understand it to be the season of waiting and longing.  For what were we waiting?  Children await the start of school; students await their grades or diploma.  Some of us expressed that we were waiting to see our children or grandchildren; others talked about waiting for a ‘good bill of health’; others hoped to receive a special gift; others expressed the concern about finances and the longing that food would be on the table for Christmas; some long for a roof over their head; some just want to be able to ‘go out’; conversation has been heard about waiting for the vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID; and broadly, throughout the ages, a longing for peace is steadfast.

I was pondering the idea of waiting and it is not a passive word, but one that requires action –waiting requires us to get ready, to prepare.  For all the things mentioned above, each one requires an action on our part; if we are awaiting the start of school, we have to get ready –purchase books and assemble necessary supplies – or waiting for that special gift requires us to express our desire for that item and possibly ‘be good’ in order to receive it, etc.

Truly, during the season of Advent, for what were we waiting?  We were waiting for the holy day to dawn upon us, to adore the Lord.  We were waiting for the great light to come upon the earth.  During the season of Advent, how did we get ready?  How did we prepare?  Some of us accepted the invitation to participate in the Eucharist, to come home to Jesus.  Some of us prayed Liturgy of the Hours or with family around the Advent Wreath, marking the weeks before the holy day to dawn upon us.  Some of us participated in fulfilling the needs of others.  We made ready ourselves to receive the greatest gift, God’s total gift of self.

The gift of self is the gift of presence, not presents.  Presence is for what we have cried since the pandemic—the desire to be with one another and not constrained by distancing.  A newborn from God the Father profoundly brings us this Presence.  He comes to us longing for each one to be a part of His Body.  He comes to us in the Spirit of God’s inestimable love offering us the Covenant.  He comes to us in our paucity and gives us bread from heaven.  He comes to us ready to uphold, to comfort, to forgive, to prepare us for His Peace.  The stable in which he is laid is open wide from the heavens to the earth because there is room through, with and in Him.

Pope Francis said Christmas marks the gift of “divine love, the love that changes lives, renews history, liberates from evil, fills hearts with peace and joy . . . In Jesus, the Most High made Himself tiny, so that we might love Him.”

He longs for us to love Him.  May we be ready and satisfy His longing.