Bishop’s Letter: Gift to the Christ Child

Jan 5, 2022

We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage
(Matthew 2:2).

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Simply, what is the gift you bring to the Christ Child? On January 2, we celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord, He, the wondrous and glorious Gift of God, the Light to the world.  We commemorate the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the magi, scholars engaged in astrology and prophecy. We celebrate the manifestation of His divinity as these wise men sought Him to come and worship. Theirs was a circuitous route to the Christ Child and they endured danger and a threat of death in seeking the newborn King.

Throughout the announcement of the birth of the Christ Child, Scripture speaks to those who first met Him and how they ‘listened’, ‘went in haste’, ‘made known the message’.  Each person brought a self-less gift to the Christ Child and teaches us about the dynamic within the family of God. Their listening was done with the heart and they opened themselves to possibility – in spite of the difficulties along the way.

Joseph, a “just” man, chose the path of confidentiality for Mary, as he learned of Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph offered himself to God in this moment as he chose silence, instead of repudiation or gossip. Joseph listens to the angel who explains the Gift who is to come and the “Providence (is) hidden that takes shape over time and illuminates even the pain that has touched us, with meaning,” said Pope Francis.

Every gift was different as we see from the three magi. But the physical gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – gifts befitting a king – don’t begin to express the inner receptivity of those who are overjoyed to behold the Christ Child.

Each one of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit and a beloved child of God; each one possesses unique treasures for God’s family. At Baptism, each person is called to make a self-less offering to God. As we are anointed, we offer ourselves, body and soul, to God. We surrender ourselves to Him who carries us through every temptation and trial . . . just as we carry Him in our heart and make known His message by our good deeds.

These good deeds, as St. Paul speaks, the stewardship of God’s grace, come alive through the Sacrament of Charity, the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus makes of Himself, revealing to us God’s infinite love for each person. Our inner receptivity is critical. To receive love, we need to be open to it. The sacrificial gift of self at every Mass is the best way to be continuously transformed into Christ. Through the Holy Eucharist, Jesus loves us to the end. As we accept Christ, we become bread for the world’s bodily and spiritual hungers.

Dearest people, what is the gift you bring to the Christ Child? Let us continue the journey begun in ancient times, illuminated by the shepherds and the magi, heralded by the choir of angels. Let us bring our only gift, each individual self, swaddled in lack and want, and offer to God what God offers to each one – Love Divine. Let our adoration before Him, Christ the Lord, be a source of His light in every heart, that each one will be overjoyed at the Gift given, the Gift received: Emmanuel, God with us.