A Christmas message from the Bishop
Luke’s Gospel records the words of the angel Gabriel inviting Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, the Son of God: “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).
The words of the angel Gabriel suggest that the Lord was already with Mary, prior to the conception of the child in her womb. Mary was, in her time of Advent preparation, already filled with the presence of God. She was a “highly favored daughter,” full of grace.
But then as consequence of the grace of God already at work in her and as a consequence of her “yes” to the divine invitation, Mary would experience God’s presence in a new and fuller way.
“You shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31, 32).
That Son, conceived in the womb of Mary and born into the world on the first Christmas day, is born into our hearts anew this Christmas and every day we open our hearts to his coming, as Mary did.
St. John Eudes says that “the mysteries of Jesus are not yet completely perfected and fulfilled. They are complete, indeed, in the person of Jesus, but not in us, who are his members, nor in the church, which is his mystical body.”
St. John Eudes suggests an ongoing process wherein the kingdom of Christ continues to grow in the life of the church as we take on that life in a fuller way. “The Son of God wills to give us a share in his mysteries and somehow extend them to us. He wills to continue them in us and in his universal church. This is brought about first through the graces he has resolved to impart to us and then through the works he wishes to accomplish in us through these mysteries. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.
“For this reason St. Paul says that Christ is being brought to fulfillment in his church and that all of us contribute to this fulfillment, and thus, he achieves the fullness of life, that is, the mystical stature that he has in his mystical body, which will reach completion only on judgement day.”
What this saint is saying is that Christ needs to be born in us in a fuller way each and every day. Christ needs to come again and again and again. Christmas becomes a daily event for us. So says St. John Eudes: “He desires to perfect the mystery of his incarnation and birth by forming himself in us and being reborn in our souls through the blessed sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.”
May the Christ of the first Christmas be born again in our hearts this Christmas day and every day of the New Year!