Dec. 21, 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
St. Luke writes: “And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 1:7). This poor couple’s God was born in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn.
Today, there is no room in our hearts for so many—the unborn, the poor, the alcoholic, those suffering from mental illness, the unemployed, the underemployed, the persecuted, the victim of unjust discrimination, the elderly, the addict, the lonely, the forgotten, the imprisoned, the abused, the terror-stricken refugee. So many women, men and children are hurting. They are members of our families. Our parish census visits reminded us that they are our neighbors. They are us!
As we have concluded a truly graced-filled Jubilee Year of Mercy, we enter this Christmas Season grateful for the blessings bestowed, but also keenly aware of our Christian duty to be the hands and merciful heart of Christ to those who currently warrant scarce attention from us.
This Christmas, let you and me resolve, inspired by our own personal encounter with Jesus Christ, to see His Face in our sisters and brothers who we so often neglect.
We yearn to make room in our hearts and in our lives for the hurting. Their human dignity demands it. Our Christian dignity impels us.
We pray that the beautiful acts of generosity that so characterize the Christmas Season, will be transformed from seasonal gestures of charity to lifelong acts of justice and mercy. Such personal transformation will give tangible evidence of the fruitfulness of the Jubilee of Mercy.
Christ-led, Christ-fed, and Hope-filled, we can do great things in Christ Jesus, the Savior whose birth we celebrate with such joy and gratitude. 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.
In so many ways, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has been especially blessed this year. As your shepherd, I am deeply grateful and continue to feel so privileged to lead the faithful of our North Country. In my pastoral visits, I continue to see such Mercy in Motion in our communities.
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 New Year!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley