Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During Advent, we celebrate the in-breaking of the Lord into human history – anticipating His Coming at the end of time as we reflect upon His Birth long ago. As we approach Christmas, we remain watchful that, while looking to the events of Bethlehem long ago, we may not overlook the many ways God is present today in our world and in our lives.
When the Word became flesh, when God became human in the Person of Jesus, a great reconciliation began. In Jesus, humanity was once again able to draw near to God, just as God has always been with His people. Indeed, Jesus was called Emmanuel, for in Him “God is with us.”
At Christmas, we celebrate not only a holy Birth, but all that this Birth made possible. Indeed, God becoming one of us has opened the path for all humanity to be one with God. This is why we continue to celebrate, to recount the details, to hearken back to Mary and Joseph at the manger, the shepherds and the song of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will!”
In Jesus, God has a human face; in Jesus, God knew suffering and death; in Jesus, God is forever bound to all who suffer in any way.
As 2017 draws to a close, we entrust ourselves and all peoples to the Lord, knowing that He is particularly close to those who continue to seek refuge from 21st Century Herods. The mass migrations caused by persecution, civil war and terrorism challenge us to be the Lord’s “light and salvation” to those who have lost hope.
May our annual celebration of the Lord’s Birth renew you in God’s love and may you, your families and your loved ones walk always in the light of the Lord.
God bless you all.
With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,
Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose