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A Christmas Letter

Wishing you the graces of the season that we all may be more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ who took upon Himself our humanity. What a beautiful time of the year in which the coming of Jesus is proclaimed by many people, even those who do not claim to be very religious.

We hear carols, send cards, celebrate with family and friends-due to the Baby in the manger who came to save us from our sins. “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”.

Adoration of MagiNo longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “ Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Savior is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us? The first thing we are told about the shepherds is that they were on the watch-they could hear the message precisely because they were awake.

We must be awake, so that we can hear the message. We must become truly vigilant people. We must leave that private world of one’s own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people. Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world. Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another. Awake, the Gospel tells us. Step outside, so as to enter the great communal truth, the communion of the one God.

To awake, then, means to develop a receptivity for God: for the silent promptings with which he chooses to guide us; for the many indications of his presence. And indeed, in the sacred liturgy, we are surrounded by the angels of God and the saints. The Lord himself is present in our midst. Lord, open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing you close to others as well!
Yes indeed, that is what we should pray for on this Holy Night. Lord Jesus Christ, Born in Bethlehem, come to us! Enter within me, within my soul! Transform me. Renew me. Change me, change us all from stone and wood into living people, in whom your love is made present and the world is transformed. Amen. (w2.vatican.va)

On your way out of church today, be sure to get the book “Resisting Happiness.” It is a good thought provoker. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes, your cards and gifts.

May the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—obtain for your many blessings and be with you during this Christmastime and throughout the coming year. May they become very important members of your family this year.