Dec. 23, 2015
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Misericordiae vultus) With these words, Pope Francis announced to the world the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Mercy is a special power of God’s love whose manifestation is needed in our present-day world more than ever. In the present moment humanity seems unable or unwilling to trust in that power. Some believe that through the power of violence, terror and hatred, one can intimidate others to bend to their will.
Mary, upon entering the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, magnifies the Lord with all her being for “His mercy,” which “from generation to generation” is bestowed on those who fear Him. This is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, whose life was steeped in compassion and tenderness. Our God’s unconditional love and boundless mercy became flesh and bones in the Person of Jesus Christ so that we might touch and see God’s compassion for every one of us.
As we gaze at the Babe in the manger, we get a glimpse of the power of the love and mercy of the Father; a love more powerful than death, more powerful than sin. Our God took on human flesh, walked the dusty roads of life to show us what that love looks like and what such mercy can accomplish. Through His lifestyle and through His actions, Jesus became the model of merciful love for others. With God’s mercy – vengeance, hatred and injustice do not have the last word.
Christmas is the festival of God’s infinite love and mercy, the festival of tomorrow’s possibilities, the festival of our salvation—truly a time of hope for all people. It is in this moment that the faithful of our Diocese continue to respond to the universal call to holiness. Today, in spite of the darkness that envelops so much of our world, we do not give in to discouragement. Rather, like Mary, we yearn to embrace the power of God’s love and mercy.
In light of our own encounter with the God-Child in the stable and, like the shepherds of that holiest of nights who lived in a violent and troubled world, we humbly invite others to: Find your home in Christ: Renew Faith, Nurture Hope, Discover Love. To these same shepherds angelic choirs announced God’s peace and pointed to the proof of God’s hope for the world which could be found in the One who wore swaddling clothes in a manger and later a loin cloth on a cross. God has rescued us from the power of darkness! That’s the message for every ear to hear and heart to embrace!
May the Christ Child bring you and your loved ones the Gift of Love, the Blessing of Hope and the Promise of Peace. A blessed Christmas and joy-filled Jubilee Year of Mercy!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley