Christmas greetings from Ireland, where, like most places in the northern hemisphere and much of the world, Christians awaited the joy-filled moment when we enter once more into the Ancient Promise. Here in the safety of the west, there was also heard the jingle of coins, haggling over trees, and the bright
expectation of children that Santa will visit during the night, bringing the toys they hoped for. In Iraq and Syria, Christians were hard-pressed even to find an intact church in which to celebrate the coming of the Messiah. Mary and Joseph would understand.
Perhaps it is too easy to disparage the low, material competition that threatens to eclipse the bright promise of eternal life, a gift that surpasses the imagination of children no less than of adults. For it is the season of giving, of grace, and in the light of the Incarnation, nothing truly human is beyond the scope of God’s redeeming love. Christmas gifts, no matter how small or uncostly (and perhaps especially those) are sacraments of the great Gift we commemorate. And what child’s yearning is not a herald of the deep heart-longing only God’s own eternal Presence can fulfill?
May God bless you abundantly now and throughout the coming year!
And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. John 1: 14
Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father’s eternity. God became human so that men and women might become God. St Augustine, Sermon 13
Our Saviour is born today, beloved. Let us rejoice and be glad. Today is the birthday of Life; there is no place here for sadness. He who is born today is the Life that destroys even the fear of death; he comes to make us happy with the promise of eternity. No one is prevented from having a share in such happiness; everyone here should be able to find cause for joy. Our Lord, who destroys sin and death, finds no one free from guilt; but he comes in order to set each person free. If you are a saint, exult! — the palm of victory is near. If you are a sinner, rejoice! — you are called to life. St Leo the Great, Christmas Homily
Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men and women should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men and women gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. St Thomas Aquinas, Opusculurn 57, in festo Corporis Christi.
Eternal salvation is open to those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church but seek God with a sincere heart, and under the inspiration of grace try in their lives to do his will, made known to them by the dictates of their conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the aids necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet reached an explicit belief in God, but strive to lead a good life, under the influence of God’s grace.
Whatever goodness and truth is found among them is seen by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel, and as given by him who shines on all men and women, so that they may at last have life. Lumen Gentium nn.2.16, (Constitution on the Church), Second Vatican Council.