By OSV Editorial Board - OSV Newsweekly, 12/23/2012
Christmas is a wondrous time. Believers gather to celebrate the great miracle of all the ages — God himself born among us in a manger in Bethlehem. What are the lessons of that babe in the hay?
The primary message of the Incarnation is a call to unwavering faith. In this Year of Faith, we are called to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei (“The Door of Faith”), Pope Benedict XVI reminds us:
“During this time, we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offense received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfillment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection ” (No. 13).
Faith itself is the message our world needs today. At Christmastime, we often see decorations and ornaments inscribed with the word, “Believe.” While this may point to the more secular aspects of the holiday, Christians know that believing in Jesus Christ is the real meaning of this holy season. Like the apostles, martyrs and saints before us, our faith sustains us and gives our lives meaning and hope.
This time of year, our faith may be tested by loneliness or grief. We may struggle with the pressure of consumerism — the belief that buying more “stuff” will make us happy. We may struggle with family grudges or challenging relationships.
Yet, the greatest lesson of the Incarnation is that God himself has been born among us — and for this we should feel nothing short of awe.
Indeed, the babe in the manger reminds us that joy will have the last word. Joy, light and love came into the world so many years ago, and nothing, not even the grave, has the power to stop it.
So, this is our message to you in these sacred days of Christmas: let us rejoice like never before at the birth of the Savior of the World, Emmanuel, God-with-Us. (See prayer at left.)
And may our celebration sustain and increase our faith so that we might joyfully witness to Jesus Christ in all that we do. Let us remember the corporal and spiritual works of mercy — to feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to clothe the naked, to forgive grudges, to bear wrongs with patience (not always easy at Christmas) and to pray for the living and the dead.
Indeed, as Pope Benedict notes in his apostolic letter, our “faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy” (Porta Fidei, No. 7).
At the heart of our faith is the great Alleluia — God himself has been born! Let us go and make disciples of all nations and proclaim this Good News to everyone we meet.
Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Sarah Hayes, presentation editor
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