A Christmas Message from Bishop Robert McManus

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

During this season of joy, our hearts are stirred by the beauty, depth and constancy of God's love for each one of us. Truly, God so loved the world that He sent His Son as our Savior (Jn 3: 16).

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Christmas Mass, together with our family gatherings and customs, draws us together in the renewal of that comforting realization. Whether it be the words of the Christmas Gospel, the sight of a lowly manger, the sounds of a cherished carol or, above all, our receiving in Holy Communion the same Savior who was born at Bethlehem, we are deeply moved by the wonder, awe and reassurance that our good God has drawn close to us.    

In that spirit, families gather to share their joy and love for God and one another. Pope Francis reminds us that the family is a "'center of love' where the law of respect and communion reigns and ... no one is set apart"  and that  "the family continues to be a school unparalleled in humanity, an indispensible contribution to a just and supportive society."   

As we reflect on the beauty and meaning of Christmas and as the Church prepares for next Fall's Synod on the Family, the Holy Family is an inspiration and example for us. However, we cannot forget that the Holy Family knew their trials, crises, disappointments and disruptions.   From the news of an unplanned pregnancy, to Joseph's initial thought of quietly divorcing Mary, to their separation from family and friends to travel to Bethlehem, to their escape from Herod and flight into Egypt, the Holy Family faced severe challenges.  But through it all, they knew that Jesus was with them, and that, by doing God's will as best they could, all would be well.

Like Mary, we face our personal challenges.  Like the Holy Family, we face family challenges.  We too, at times, may be greatly troubled and ask, "How can this be?"  In those times, let us remember the enduring meaning of Christmas.  God is with us.  He loves us.  His grace will sustain us if we, like Mary and Joseph, strive to do God's will in our lives for "nothing is impossible for God."

May the peace of Christmas always be your blessing and may the consolation of God's presence to you be your strength in times of trial.

With every prayerful best wish I remain,

                        Sincerely yours in Christ,

                        Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
                        Bishop of Worcester