My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth involve a disparate group of people—the sinless virgin, the upright Joseph, an indifferent innkeeper, Jewish shepherds, pagan magi, the ruthless Herod, incurious scribes, and murderous soldiers. Among this radically varied group, there was one thing in common. They were all—each one of them—loved by God. They were each the reason Christ was born. To each He would call. For each He died.
What was true that long ago night in Bethlehem remains true this day in our world. God loves each one of us. He loves those in the pews each week, twice a year or not at all. He loves those who have just come from the confessional and those who have not yet made it there. He loves those who acknowledge and worship Him and those who do not recognize Him and are far off.
Jesus Christ is the one savior of the world. He loves us all and He calls us all. As people whose freedom God respects, our response is critical. It determines if we find peace in this life and in the next. His peace is a gift. We do not earn it. We can only accept it. We accept it by believing in Him and what He has revealed, by striving to follow Him with our lives, and, by our repentance, accepting His freely offered, limitless mercy for our failures.
I pray that, whatever our situation and circumstance this Christmas, we may all be deeply moved by the wonderous love of God who so loved the world that He sent His Son as our Savior. May we turn anew to Jesus Christ, find a welcome place in His Church, and with it the joy, peace and hope God intends for us all.
With every prayerful best wish for a Merry Christmas, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus