“Christ is born, sing glory! Christ has descended from heaven, go out to meet Him! Christ is on earth; lift yourselves up! Sing to the Lord, all the Earth for He Who belongs to heaven is now on earth! Christ has become flesh, so tremble and rejoice; tremble because of sin and rejoice because of hope: Christ is born of the Virgin!”
These beautiful words of the great Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-389) can be heard across our world and around the globe this Christmas. Christ is born again this year in our hearts as He was born in the flesh of the Virgin Mary two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. Like the shepherds, we welcome Him into our hearts and into our lives. We know His coming changes all of humanity. We pray that His love will constantly increase in us so that we might belong more deeply to Him and to His Church and thus to one another. Bethlehem has reopened Eden and in the grotto of Bethlehem we regain the goods of Paradise. (Romanos the Melodist c. 540)
In this Year of Faith, Christmas is the great feast when we can renew our faith in God’s love made manifest in the birth of His Son, Jesus the Christ. This is the feast that opens our eyes to the concrete expression of divine love now become an intimate part of the life of every man and woman who believes in the heart and professes with one’s lips that Jesus, this Child, Jesus, is the Son of God. He is Lord and Savior.
In this Year of Faith, we all recently have been tried through the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. So many have lost homes. So many have had to struggle. So many need help. And so many of you have been generous, giving, caring and loving toward our brothers and sisters in need. I love those words of Blessed John Paul II: we do not know why God allows suffering but we do know that suffering releases love.
Love, God’s love, was released in superabundance in a stable in Bethlehem. That love has never ceased to flood our hearts, strengthen our families, encourage the young and give consolation to the elderly. And the more we adore the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary, the more we too are cooperators in spreading God’s love from that stable into our parishes, our communities and all the world.
With you I pray that this Christmas will bring us joy and happiness. Even more I pray Christmas will bring peace especially to the Middle East. And I pray that you and I who welcome Jesus into our hearts may be His instruments to offer His love and His gift of peace to all the world.
Joyful and blessed Christmas to one and all!
Bishop of Rockville Centre