See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so indeed we are. -1John 3.1
My Dear Friends,
Today is the great solemnity that shows the world that the Word incarnate, the Savior of mankind, is finally born! On behalf of The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, Monsignor Thomas M. Muldowney, V.G., Reverend Gerald W. Shantillo, V.E., Deacon Ed Shoener and the Cathedral staff, I extend to you, and those you love, a blessed and joy-filled Christmas! I extend my most heartfelt thanks for all the kind messages you have expressed, the cards you have sent, and the prayers you have offered me and my brother priests, not only on this occasion but throughout the year.
During the Christmas season there is an extensive exchange of greetings and good wishes among friends. These greetings are a reminder of those "good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people, for this day is born to you a Savior Who is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:11). They are a reminder, too, that all blessings and graces come to us from Christ: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
The Christmas feast is a festival full of joy. The Eternal Word has become Man and dwells among us. The longings of the patriarchs and prophets are fulfilled. With the shepherds we hurry to the manger and adore the Incarnate Son of God, who for us and for our salvation descended upon earth. In the busyness of this season, let us take a moment and look upon the manger - Mary, Joseph, the newborn Christ, the shepherds and their flock - it is a serene and perfect moment in time. It is a moment that we must strive to recreate in the present. It is a moment of peace, joy, and unbridled love.
It seems trite to say once again that this past year has been unrelenting in its challenges. It is enough to cause the best and most resilient to question God’s presence. We are faced with yet another holiday that may separate us from our families and those we love all in the name of our health and safety. While Jesus may not have been born during a pandemic, he was born into a world overwhelmed by fear, corruption, oppression, greed, hatred, malice and political instability.
The quote I chose above is not one with which you may be familiar. It is a unique but powerful quote to contemplate during this season. The words 'what kind' in the Greek indicate an otherworldly or supernatural love. It is a kind of love that the Holy Trinity has for His children but one that we do not understand fully because it comes from another place than earth. It's astounding to think of this love! It is so deep and so perfect. It's abstract because it comes from the Father's heart, but it is real because He demonstrates it - in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, God’s greatest gift to us, let joy be born in our hearts and in our lives. Let us inspire those around us to act with kindness and goodwill, let us share the light of Christ and the light of our joy with the world that may appear lost in darkness. This task may seem unattainable – how can we possibly inspire others and spread joy when we need these things in our own lives?
Quite simply, my friends, we already have them. The message of Christmas – of the joy and love born on this day – collapses all those anxieties and fears, transforming them into optimistic and hope-filled expressions of a better tomorrow.
May you and your loved ones be blessed with love, peace, and joy this Christmas Season and every day of the New Year!
Monsignor Dale R. Rupert