A Christmas message to the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Syracuse

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

   “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14)! Once again we celebrate the mystery of Christmas. When we consider accounts of the Savior’s birth we do so with hearts and minds illumined by faith. We

see more than a stable and a manger; more than shepherds and wise men. We hear more than angels singing. With eyes of faith, we believe the eternal, majestic and all-powerful God entered human history as an infant, powerless and dependent on others.

   The Incarnation is Emmanuel, God with us. God has become one of us. He, who is beyond our knowing Him, makes Himself known in a manner we can grasp. The Holy One adopts our frailty so we can share in His strength. He becomes one of us so that we might become what He is. This is the deepest meaning of Christmas and the cause of our joy.

   The liturgy of Christmas rings out with joyfulness and hope. And yet, on Christmas we are not to forget that too many families are homeless, too many immigrants and refugees lack needed assistance and pastoral care, too many children die of starvation and treatable disease, too many people are victims of the violence of war, terrorism and racism. Amidst all this, however, our faith assures us that with the birth of Christ everything has changed. We rejoice that God has come into our world, in human flesh, and we believe that Christ will come again. God has not given up on us. We are His own and we will be welcomed at the heavenly feast if we recognize Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters.

   Let us remember our ongoing commitment to know, live and share our faith. Recall the words of Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says . . . ‘Your God reigns’” (Is 52:7). We are the messengers of this incredibly good news. Through our words and actions may we proclaim, “The Savior has come. He is in our midst. Come and see the one who brings us life without end.”

   For the commercial world, Christmas will end at midnight on Christmas Eve, followed only by the retail sales. But in the liturgical calendar Christmas is just the beginning of the Christmas season — a celebration that will continue for twelve more days, until the feast of the Epiphany.

   During this time, keep the mystery of Christmas alive in your hearts and minds. Might I suggest that one way to do this is to visit the crib scene in your parish church. Standing or kneeling before the manger, gaze quietly in peaceful silence and hear the wonder and beauty of the Christmas message: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth”

(Jn 1:14).

A blessed Christmas to you and all whom you love.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham

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