By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Each year as the Solemnity of Christ’s Birth draws near, I am reminded of what Saint Paul wrote to the Christian community in Corinth: “though He was rich, (Jesus Christ) became poor for your sake, so that through His poverty, you might become rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).
Yes, as we kneel before the Manger scene on Christmas Day and beyond, we see before us the poverty which the Son of God embraced at His birth. He was born in a cattle stable, not in a room at the inn or at His home; lying in a manger of straw, not in a comfortable bed; wrapped in swaddling clothes, not in warm garments and a blanket.
But the poverty which He embraced was much more than what is so immediately visible. He put aside the riches of heavenly glory, and instead took on our human nature. As the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, Jesus became like us in all things except sin. (cf. Heb 4:15).
Why did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, do all this? Out of love for us and for our salvation. He became poor, so that through His poverty, we might become rich. Rich in what? Rich in the things that really matter — the things of the heart!
Knowing that our heart longs for the kind of love that truly satisfies and fulfills us, Jesus Christ came to remove every obstacle that keeps us from experiencing such love — the obstacles of evil, sin and eternal death. He came to offer us salvation, God’s free act of love, whereby we become His sons and daughters with the promised inheritance of living forever, sharing His life, in an existence that goes beyond our wildest imaginations, a life of unending peace and joy and fellowship. When we possess that kind of life, we shall truly become rich and fully alive.
Jesus Christ was born, and eventually suffered, died and rose again on the third day, so that we might find in our union with Him the fulfillment of our hearts’ deepest longing. He is the source of the kind of love that satisfies the human heart here in our earthly journey and becomes totally fulfilled in heaven.
Draw near to the manger and see the love of Christ, the love that made Him poor so that we might become truly rich. And give Him the only thing He desires — love for Him made real in prayer and worship as well as in our daily witness, and love for others, made real in self-emptying service to others.
I will remember each of you in my prayers and in the Holy Masses, which I shall offer on Christmas Day and throughout this season of Christmas joy!
Faithfully in the Heart of Christ,
Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington
Follow Bishop Loverde on Twitter @Bishop_Loverde.
Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.