Monthly Archives: December 2023

God’s Gift to Mankind

Christmas greetings to you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

The birth of our Lord we celebrate at this time is a mystery of unfathomable depth. Indeed, who among us doesn’t have Christmas memories of our childhood—be it 30, 50, or 70 years ago—yet still today fail to wrap our finite and fallen minds around this greatest of all gifts: the gift of God’s only Son and, through him, the gift of divine life.

Throughout the Christmas season, attentive ears will hear of the “divine commerce” or “divine exchange” the Father offers us by means of the birth of his Son. During the Prayer over the Offerings at Midnight Mass, for example, we hear about “the holy exchange that restores our life.” The Father exchanges his Son for us so that we can now become sons and daughters of God.

Another text that makes the same point occurs each time the deacon or priest adds water to the wine in the chalice at Mass. As he pours the water, he prays that “by the mystery of this water and wine,” we “may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

It is too easy for all of us to see the darkness, the fallenness, and the woundedness that each of us has, and consequently that features so prominently around the world. But God has given us a great gift that overcomes our sadness. We have been made in God’s image, and, even though that image has been disfigured by sin, we are given the great possibility of restoring that holy image in ourselves by the birth of Jesus. To adapt a phrase: Jesus took on our image—a human face!—so that we could regain his

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you find and put on this divine image this Christmas. Do not be afraid, but rejoice in that new life—here and now—it is ours for the taking. God gives us a great gift in his Son: let us strive to give him the gift of ourselves, for in him we find joy.

Merry Christmas!

Peace on Earth – Advent Message

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As the year draws to a close and the hopes for 2024 dawn, I am grateful to have the opportunity to pass along my own Advent greetings to you.

This year’s thoughts of our Lord’s miraculous birth in Bethlehem, the singing angels announcing his birth, and the star-guided Magi cannot be separated from the heart-rending war on the very soil from which our faith has grown.  Truly, the angels’ announcement of “peace on earth” seems only a faint memory today. 

It is by the birth of Christ that peace is restored between heaven and earth in the meeting of the angels and the shepherds; that a new brotherhood is born in the coming of the Magi from the east; that unity is fostered in all of creation in the gathering of man and beast together around the manger.

It is at the birth of Jesus that a new light “breaks upon us”(Luke 1:78). Just when the world seems to be engulfed in darkness—it is no mistake that we celebrate Christmas so close to the winter solstice—a new “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has come and cannot overtake it” (John 1:5).

We don’t need to watch the evening news to know that sin, suffering, and sadness still abound in too many war-torn regions: many of us can look no further than our own homes and hearts.  But we need to watch for the coming of Christ during these Advent days and celebrate all he offers us—salvation, peace, and joy—at his birth.

Let us return, then, to the Holy Land, and let us focus our minds and hearts not only on the suffering its current inhabitants—which cannot be ignored—but on Christ who is born in its midst. If there is to be peace in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts, it will only be found in him.