Dear Brothers and Sisters,
From Christ who was, who is and who is to come, grace light and peace be with you!
The coming of the end of the year coincides with our annual observance of Advent and Christmas. As we look back to a year that in so many ways has been terribly sad and disappointing, still we are full of hope in view of what is yet to come. This hope is founded in Who is to come: our Lord Jesus Christ.
The weeks leading to Christmas encourage us to be one with the prophets who foretold the Lord’s coming as they fervently hoped for an end to the bondage and captivity that so often marked the life of the people of Israel. Even now, we live in this same hope as we so often sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” We rejoice, for we are confident that, in spite of all things, God is with us.
Advent also serves to help us prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Birth, surrounded by the love of Mary and Joseph, the song of angels and shepherds’ witness. We look fondly to that first Christmas as the reason for our celebration so many years later.
These weeks before Christmas challenge us to see and welcome the Lord who breaks into each of our lives as surely as He entered the life and history of humanity long ago in Bethlehem.
Where do we recognize the Lord today? Do we allow ourselves to hear His voice speaking to us through the Scriptures? Do we encounter His loving care for us in the sacraments, most especially in the Eucharist? Do we know Him in one another and in the poor and needy who knock on the doors of our lives? Today, in December 2018, parents and young children, not so unlike the Holy Family, are seeking asylum from the violence that threatens them. They come to the borders of this nation in the hope that just as the Holy Family found safety in Egypt, so these families will find the welcome that we might reserve for Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Looking forward to Christmas and the New Year, we cannot erase the mistakes and tragedies of the past, but we can surely recommit ourselves and our Church to a renewed faithfulness to the Lord Whose Birth we prepare to celebrate with joy and love.
May this ancient prayer be on our lips and in our hearts: “Jesus, living in Mary, come and live in us.”
With every best wish and kind regard, we remain,
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath and Bishop Oscar Cantú