A Christmas message from Bishop Edward C. Malesic
A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM BISHOP EDWARD C. MALESIC
Waiting for the light of the world, be light for others
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Much of the Christmas story that we learn as children takes place on one of the shortest days of the year, the darkest day. The birth of Jesus, the Light of the World, breaks through the darkness of sin and death as he begins the journey to the cross to take on our sins and secure our salvation.
In Scripture and song at the Christmas Eve Mass we read from the prophet Isaiah, who tells us that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
In the Gospel at the Christmas Vigil Mass, St. Luke describes the shepherds keeping the night watch over their flock, “and the glory of the Lord shone around them” when Jesus was born of Mary.
The Gospel of St. John is often proclaimed at the Christmas Day Mass. We read that Jesus is the light that “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:4-5).
We were all born into the darkness of sin because of the first sin of Adam and Eve. Our first parents broke our relationship with God. But God had a plan to rescue us from the tragic consequences of this first sin. When the time was right, God sent us a Messiah, a Savior, to rescue us and restore our relation-ship with him. He gave us a light to lead us back to him.
Many people missed it, however. They didn’t see the light. They kept their eyes closed to God’s saving act in Bethlehem. They were expecting a Messiah of blazing fire, but God gave us a Savior who was more like a flame flickering in the darkness. Sadly, today, many still close their eyes to the presence of Jesus, who comes to us in humility, born in a stall and placed in a manger.
Yes, Jesus, the Son of God, came to us as a fragile infant born in lowly surroundings. Yet, he is the Savior of the world. He tells us that to serve him, we must serve the poor, the lonely and the outcast. He tells us to love one another. This is how his flickering flame will turn into a blazing fire. He wants to be born in each of us. Then he will set this world on fire.
But, so often we close our eyes to his light. We reject the light of Jesus when we sin, when we fail to love, when we embrace the darkness of this world, when we refuse to worship Jesus as Lord of our lives.
We can use this Christmas season to fan the flame of Christ’s birth into a fire that energizes our souls and transforms our world of darkness. How? Love one another, work for peace and seek justice. Support, protect and promote life, and do everything we can to preserve the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds us in Western Pennsylvania. Help to end the bondage of sex trafficking and other forms of human slavery. Be open to people who are looking for a place of safety for themselves and their families. Shine the light that Jesus has given to us so that people can find the love of Jesus that is within us. We can hand on the light of Jesus to others so that his light never goes out in our world.
Let me say that Jesus shines in our diocese! I can list many examples, from the number of young people being formed in our Catholic schools and religious education programs to the number of people served by our Catholic Charities programs, and how we are communicating the Good News online, in print and on air. Children are being baptized, sinners are being forgiven, young people are being confirmed, the sick are being anointed, couples are being married, men are in formation for Holy Orders, and the Word of God is being proclaimed in our parishes and ministries. There are so many points of light in what we do in our diocese.
But, what I can’t list is each and every thing you have done to bring the light of Jesus to others. Only you and those around you know how you have served the Lord.
I thank you for keeping the flame of Christ alive in your homes, schools, places of work and our parishes.
This Christmas, I encourage you to continue sharing his light with others. Bring his light to every good thing that you do for Christ, our Messiah, our Savior, the Son of Mary, the Son of God. Bring light to the darkness. Bring Jesus with you wherever you go.
I will pray for you and your loved ones this Christmas season: May Jesus be your light and give you the courage to share it with someone else. And, finally, thank you for your prayers for me and for all you do for our Church. You bring the light of much joy to me.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Your brother in Christ,