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A Blessed and Joyous Christmas

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a
manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Luke 2:8-14)

After our period of waiting and preparation, the great event of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is now upon us.  The Church puts aside the purple and blue of the Advent season and adorns the temple and the altar with white and gold, with
flowers and evergreens to remind us that it is now time to rejoice, rejoice that the Christ-Child has been born in the manger in Bethlehem.

The Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord speaks to us in so many ways as a child of God who calls upon the Lord to come to us.  From the Scripture reading above we see the glorious visit of the angels and their message which comes to the shepherds from the sky.  And in this same way we remember the words of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary telling her that she would conceive a child and give birth to a Son.  And because of these events we certainly are moved to see that God has planned something very special and now He is about to accomplish it.  God does things in an out of the ordinary way to show us that His magnificent plan for our salvation is about to take place.  It is the birth of the only-begotten Son of God, the Savior of the world.  It is the birth of the Messiah which the people of Israel had long awaited.

But I have always felt that even with all of this magnificent expression of God’s power, these things are not the most meaningful.  As children of God and a part of His creation, it is always especially moving to spend some time by the manger, whether in our parish Church or at our home and consider in this what God has done for us.  Yes the images of God’s power can certainly be impressive, but oftentimes God speaks most strongly when He does so in a whisper.

We see in the manger the Blessed Virgin Mary, the one who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.  In this we know that God still speaks to us today.  His words of peace and loving kindness  are announced in the words of Scripture and in the works of Christians as they strive to follow the way of the Lord.  We see at the manger Joseph, a member of the house of David, who would care and protect Mary and Jesus from the many who sought their lives.  He would guide them through these
early days, always following God’s way.  We see in this that we are called to stand by our Lord Jesus Christ and that we must defend the faith often in a strong and quiet way.

We see the animals and through them we know that the message of salvation and restoration is announced to all creation.  All things will be restored because of the life and presence of Jesus Christ.  We see the shepherds, those lowliest ones of that society and in this we know that the good news is kept from no one.  In witnessing their worship we know that all are called to witness the saving act of God in the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  In knowing that the shepherds returned to the fields praising God, we also see that we must go about our own daily lives in an attitude of reverence, glorying and praising God in all things.  We see the three kings and we know that we must put aside any worldly things or talents we have gained and offer them to the service of Jesus Christ.

The manger is a special place to spend a bit of time during the Christmas season, and I encourage each and every one of you to spend a bit of time there in prayer.  If you have done a bit of study, I know that in some ways the manger as we have it today is not an actual picture of what probably occurred on that evening in Bethlehem.  The places where animals are kept didn’t quite look like that wooden crèche.  I know that the kings didn’t arrive until sometime later and probably the Holy Family was living in another area.  But these small inaccuracies are not really all that important in comparison with the message that God is trying to give us, whether through the words of Scripture or in this Christmas display.

God tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, has come to each of us in a small, quiet way.  He comes not with a crash through the skies but with a small, quiet voice which says come to the manger, come see the Lord born to you this day.  I encourage you to let this Christmas season be one of a return to the manger, a return to Jesus Christ.  Put aside those things which have kept you away, the busyness of life, the distractions of modern life, and return to Jesus and His way.

As this New Year of 2016 is to be a Year of Reverence within the Polish National Catholic Church, it might do us well to begin it by spending a bit of time each day at the crèche.  And then of course let us take its lessons to be forthcoming into our daily lives.  Let us live simply as did Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  But let our simple lives be lived for God, Who desires all to come to know Jesus Christ as the newborn Savior and Messiah.

To all of my brother Bishops, to the Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, to the deacons and all of the faithful of our Polish National Catholic Church, I wish you God’s blessings of peace, love and joy during this season of the Lord’s birth, and know that I will kneel at the manger each day this Christmas season, praying that Jesus will visit all our lives.

A Joyous Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year 2016 to all.

 

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1006 Pittston Ave, Scranton, PA
Phone: (570) 346-9131
Website: http://www.pncc.org
Email: info@nullpncc.org