“Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”
December 2017 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this my fifteenth Christmas as your Bishop, I pray that the blessings and peace of the newborn Savior be yours in abundance and that you may know anew the depth of God’s love for you. I am so grateful to be celebrating with you this grace-filled event of Jesus’ coming into our world.
Christmas is best celebrated when we return to that first Christmas and celebrate its true meaning, Christ’s birth. The Savior’s birth unites us to God and to one another. As the Son of God becomes one of us, He not only joins us to God but he also makes possible our new status as God’s children. His birth is celebrated in hearts that are open to God’s love and in lives that share God’s love through service to others, especially those in need. His love must be both lived and shared.
As we join in thanksgiving for the blessings we enjoy, we recognize, as disciples of Christ, that there are so many among us who need our help and comfort. There are families sadly separated from loved ones for the first time this Christmas. There are families coping with the loss of loved ones to eternal rest. We in the diocesan family profoundly miss our Chancellor and dear friend, Monsignor Brown, every day, even knowing he has reached everlasting glory in God’s embrace. We know that Monsignor, at home with the Lord, is still watching over us with kindness and affection. Our faith helps each of us grasp the enormity of God’s saving grace that brings strength and comfort when you lose someone in your life who means so much to you.
We recognize, too, that there are others suffering from illness, still others without work, or shelter, or the basic necessities of food, clothing and medicine. All of our brothers and sisters in distress need to hear and see the message of God’s love, the song of the Angels over Bethlehem, and the news of the Savior’s birth. We must use our talents and gifts at Christmas and beyond to reach out joyfully and generously to hold every hand and lift every burden within our reach and power. We, ourselves, become the gift of Christmas.
In Jesus Christ, God is truly one with us. May astonishment and wonder fill our hearts. May our hearts and homes be mangers where Jesus lives, not only for a day but for all days! This Christmas, draw near to Christ. Find Christ in others, especially in the most vulnerable among us. Experience the joy of God’s love in your life. The Church throws open its doors in welcome to you; come celebrate God’s presence in the Eucharist with praise and thanksgiving. Invite others to join with you. “Take a step towards Jesus,” into His open arms.
In the simplicity of that holy night in Bethlehem, life’s deepest meaning is discovered. Our life is not complete without love, God’s love. Merry Christmas to all!
May the peace and joy of this holy season abide with you and your loved ones throughout the New Year. May you be blessed, always, with the thrill of hope that the Savior brings.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael R. Cote