By Most Reverend Gerald Barnes
In this Christmas Season we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us. It is a time of joy for us as Catholic Christians because we understand, and we feel in our hearts, that the incarnation of God, brought into our world to be among us, set the path for our own salvation.
He is the greatest gift we could ever receive, and He is all we need.
Gift is central to our observance of Christmas. We like to exchange gifts with family and friends, and the phenomenon of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the rest speaks to the abundance that is enjoyed by many in our culture. At the same time, we are well-served to remember the context of Christ’s birth and how that relates (or doesn’t relate) to our concept of gift at Christmas.
The Holy Family was traveling from another land to escape danger, to find a better life. Perhaps we can find a parallel here with the immigrant families that come to our country. Joseph and Mary were also so impoverished that they could not secure a proper place to bring the Christ child into the world. Perhaps we can relate this to the poverty that so many are living with in our Diocese.
What is our awareness of this in our communities, in our parishes? Are we showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are poor through prayer and action? Or are we part of the “culture of indifference” that our Holy Father, Pope Francis has described... and decried.
As we enjoy the season, renewing acquaintances, enjoying holiday foods and gatherings, and, yes, exchanging gifts, let’s not forget to offer our gift to God - faith in action. His Son called us to give of our abundance, and to care for those least among us. As we reflect on the Jubilee Year of Mercy just completed and look forward to what lies ahead in 2017, let us offer the gift of Mercy, committing ourselves to continue the good works that we have begun.
I offer you my prayers and best wishes for a blessed Christmas Season and New Year.