Friends, as the days of Advent pass and the celebration of Christmas approaches, I extend to you my greetings and prayers.
Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, in a Bethlehem stable, to parents who were sustained by their trusting faith and their love for God and each other. The historical circumstances of Jesus birth serve to remind us that we are to look for His divine presence first among the poor and vulnerable. Within hours, an angel announced the good news of His birth to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields, to those who held no social status or political power, and they were the first to seek out the Child, Jesus. Those who encountered Him recognised the incarnate embodiment of love, of hope, of joy, and peace in that stable. We are told that they glorified and praised God at this wondrous event.
In Jesus, God emptied Himself and became human like us. God, who created the universe in majesty, showed His generosity and love, in accepting to be born and placed in a lowly manger among the animals and in the presence of the poor. God who holds the world in His hands was himself embraced in the arms of a young woman from a Galilean village. From this sign of self-emptying love, the path of salvation was set for us through sacrifice, humility, and solidarity with those who have no importance or true dignity in the secular world.
This Christmas, let us try to look beyond the cultural signs of this festive season to the darkness that is in need of this Radiant Light. To see this light in the work of those helping refugees become resettled in our city, in those who volunteer at food banks or Feed the Hungry, in nurses and doctors caring for the elderly, in our peace keepers, in the patience of teachers who believe in students who struggle, in the faces of those who support women living in situations of domestic violence, those who offer respect and dignity to young mothers and their children rebuilding their lives through Elizabeth House, in those who stand beside the addicted in their struggles and the thousands of people who live every day the challenges that Christ embraced in his humanity.
The birth of the Son of God can be received with great joy. Christmas offers us the hope that the light of His birth will never be eclipsed by the darkness of human pain and despair. God comes among us and calls us to become ever more generous and evermore active in serving the needs of others. As Christians we are called to be a path of hope and through our outreach the presence of Christ who is being reborn into our world with such acts of love and service. Let us find new ways to share the joy of the Incarnation through our prayer and acts of charity.
I invite you to reflect for a few moments this Christmas in front of the crèche and ponder the riches that we have received into our hearts. To know once again the great love that is born into the world through Jesus Christ and to profess our belief in Him whom we follow.
May the blessings of Jesus’ Presence be with you and your families. May Christ’s Love, Peace and Joy embrace you this Christmas and each day of your life. Merry Christmas to everyone!
☩ William McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary