Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit; … and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
These words of the beautiful Angelus prayer came to pass with the birth of the Son of God in a stable located in the town of Bethlehem. The parents were poor; there was no possibility of housing, and the newborn baby was laid in a manger because there was no place else for Him to sleep.
The story of this humble birth continues to produce a sense of wonder and awe in the minds and hearts of millions of people throughout the world. Why such a response? I believe that it is because people are living in hope of and longing for a world filled with love.
There are so many ways that love seems to be available these days, but what so many in contemporary society present as love is not love at all. Our society creates a false hope that often leads to frustration, anxiety and sometimes even despair. People who have accepted this false notion of love many times fall prey to addiction and emotional distress which may lead to devastating results.
The celebration of Christmas causes us to reflect on what really matters in life and our faith is focused on God’s promise of a better world and a better sense of our dignity as children of God.
This promise is fulfilled not on some unreachable dream or some distant philosophy, but on a person who changed the course of world events and continues to do so even in our own time. Jesus is active in our lives through His Word, His sacraments, His people, specifically the Church.
We have seen the action of Christ recently in very strong ways in His Vicar on earth, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who gives us a beautiful example of Christ present in our midst. Francis calls to birth over and over this Jesus, both in his own actions and in the challenges he offers to the Church and to all God’s people throughout the world.
Accepting Jesus and trying to live the life He offers us with His grace is the only way that we can find meaning in the celebration of Christmas. It is with faith in Him, and hope in all that He promises that we can find and experience the love that we all seek so desperately.
May you, the people of this wonderful Diocese of Charleston, experience this love and peace this Christmas season.
In the Lord’s peace and joy,
Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop of Charleston