The joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The tragic events of Friday morning, December 14th at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut have deeply touched all of us this Christmas Season. Our joyful anticipation to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior, has turned into a time of sadness and prayer for the 20 children and 8 adults who will not celebrate Christmas this year. We pray for all the families affected by this senseless violence. As we gather with our loved ones this Christmas, we will hug them tighter and appreciate them more than ever before. Only Christ, the child whose birth we celebrate, can give us hope. Hope gives us strength to face so many sorrows in our lives. We know that evil will never have the last word. The child Jesus grew to be our Savior. He saves us from death and mourning, from sadness and grief. He did so by His own suffering and death. He is Emmanuel—God with us—even in our pain.
May the imminent birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, bring you peace, joy, and every grace! He is coming, with His great power, to give mercy to sinners and salvation to those who long for Him.
Similarly, as we have decorated our homes and prepared gifts for those we love, we have tried not to be too caught up in the world’s materialism. We have remembered to make some acts of charity for the poor, among our own families and neighbors, and those so affected last month by Hurricane Sandy. We have been more generous with our prayers for all those in need, especially the families in Newtown, Connecticut, for the unborn, for the defense of marriage, and for the liberty of the Church. Perhaps we have offered kind words to a stranger, or one from whom we have been estranged. We have tried to show by the witness of our lives that it is Jesus Christ for whom we prepare, and that Christmas only starts, rather than ends, on the feast of His birth.
As our Holy Father reminded us recently, “Amidst the consumer society, in which we seek joy in things, John the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so Christmas is experienced not only as an outward party outside, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.”
Now, then, in these last few days of Advent, we still know we need something more than feasting and consumer goods to find true joy. Christ, our guiding and sustaining light, is nearly here. Amid our hectic lives and many last-minute obligations, He asks us to find time for stillness, for quiet in which He can touch our hearts. He wants us to feast on Him inwardly – on His word and His sacraments, and on His charity poured out through the faithful witness of our lives. This is the deepest anticipation of our Christmas joy: if we take the time to be with Him now, we will be all the more prepared to be united with Him when He comes.
May these coming days of Christmas, from the Nativity of our Savior on December 25 until the feast of His Baptism on January 13, crown your prayerful Advent preparations with the fullness of joy and peace, and bring you every grace and blessing in the coming year! Please pray for me, and for all our priests, just as I pray for all of you. And remember in a special way this year all those who have died, both young and old, stranger and friend. May the Year of Faith continue to be most fruitful in our lives.
Most merry and blessed Christmas,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless,
|Back to top||Back to Commentary|