Bishop José’s Christmas Message for 2022
Titus 3:4-7 When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
As we prepare our hearts for the giving and receiving of Christmas, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the generosity of God in the gift of Jesus. While the world often thinks of this time in terms of prosperity and making the bottom line, we know, as Christians, that the significance of this holy time is grounded in the generosity of God.
Through the grace and vulnerability of the Incarnation – God chose to take on human flesh and be born into the world as a baby, totally dependent on others for sustenance and safety. God’s vulnerability and generosity, made manifest in Jesus, reveals the eternal truth that healing and hope are real even when we are weary, that welcome and peace are real even when we feel cast aside, that love and joy are real even when we are grieving.
The gift of Incarnation did not come with pomp and circumstance. Instead of a lavish party or grand parade, with fiery chariots heralding the arrival of God’s Son, angels came and sang of the birth to lowly shepherds living and working in the fields. I am humbled knowing that God’s generosity and love is offered to all people, especially to those on the margins. God sent an angel to a handful of shepherds watching over their flocks near the town of Bethlehem, even though they were often considered by the society of that day as inferior and thieves. The angel, shining with holy splendor, implored the shepherds to go and greet the baby Jesus, telling them, “this is a sign for you.”
How terrifying it must have been, because a holy visitation to thieves and troublemakers usually meant judgement and destruction. And yet, God chose to announce the glory of the Incarnation to shepherds, not to admonish but to bless, so they could bear witness that God’s love is for everyone, no exceptions.
English composer and conductor John Rutter reflected this truth of infant Jesus in his carol, Christmas Lullaby:
Where are his courtiers and who are his people?
Why does he bear neither scepter nor crown?
Shepherds his courtiers, the poor for his people
With peace as his scepter and love for his crown
My friends, as we enter into the stillness of the Nativity, I invite you to join me in welcoming the Incarnation of God that is already happening in our midst. As we reverently make our way to the manger, may you embrace the mystery of the divine presence dwelling among us. I pray that this holy season serves not only as a balm for your souls, filling you with light and hope and peace, but that it also empowers and equips you to join the shepherds of old and manifest the grace of God’s love for the whole world.