Catholic Free Press

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  • Dec
  • 19

Joy born anew

Posted By December 19, 2013 | 11:54 am | Lead Story #1

That angelic announcement to shepherds tending their flock so long ago brings great joy to us and to our world today.  In the lowliest of circumstances God’s Son was born of the Virgin, born to save us, born to show God’s great love for us all.  That is cause for our greatest joy.  As Pope Francis recently wrote, “with Christ, joy is constantly born anew” (Evangelii Guadium, 1).
At the announcement of that good news, the shepherds hastened to Bethlehem.  At the sight of the star, Magi journeyed from afar.  Finding Jesus they bowed down in adoration.  Having adored they would rise with joy.
This Christmas you and I will not traverse shepherd’s field or be guided by a star to Bethlehem.  But, guided by the light of faith, we will bow down and worship God’s Son at Mass and receive Him in the Holy Eucharist.
The shepherds and Magi faced obstacles on their way to Bethlehem.  They had to leave behind flock and family, comforts and conveniences. They encountered darkness and cold, hardship and Herod.  You and I face obstacles to our faith that hinder us from closely encountering Jesus and fully experiencing the joy of our faith.  Let us with haste, like the shepherds, and with perseverance, like the Magi, seek Him before all else this Christmas. In that encounter, separated from all that lays false claim to our happiness, we will find true and lasting joy.
After they encountered Christ at Christmas, the shepherds returned to their flock and the Magi to their home.  In one sense, nothing was different.  But in a very real sense, everything was different.  They had personally encountered Emmanuel — God with us.  Because of that encounter their fears, longings and problems, though still pressing, were now seen in a completely new light.  That God was with them gave them increased confidence, consolation and hope.  Christmas offers us the same spiritual consolations through a deepened faith.
We have just concluded the Year of Faith.  In proclaiming that year, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of “the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ” (Porta Fidei  2).  May your prayer, worship and acts of charity to those in need this Christmas lead you to a profound encounter with Christ.  I pray that He may grant you the gift of deep faith and the enduring joy of a new appreciation of God’s great love for you and all your loved ones.

With every prayerful best wish for a Blessed and Merry Christmas, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester