By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Each year, as you and I kneel before the Nativity scene, we see an infant, often depicted with his tiny arms outstretched towards us.
That moving gesture communicates a twofold meaning: Jesus desires to be held by us and to hold us as well in love! Recently, Pope Francis wrote:
“Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living” (cf. Misericordiae Vultus, n. 9).
Our Holy Father was speaking about love in the context of God’s mercy. As you know, he is urging us to reflect on God’s mercy in a very intentional way from December 8 of this year to November 20, 2016: an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, as he calls it.
“…mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible…” (cf. Ibid.).
So, this year, as you and I kneel before the Nativity scene and fix our eyes on the Infant Jesus, surrounded by Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, we see in Him a very tangible and concrete sign of God’s love, His mercy revealed clearly and unmistakably. The Infant Jesus is reaching out to each one of us: “Because you are loved by God Our Father, I have come to be among you and to save you by my future dying and rising. See how much I love you: My tiny arms stretched out towards you now and later on, stretched and nailed to the Cross.” Since the only response to love is love, let us reaffirm our love to the Infant Savior, to be shown by imitating Him in our daily living and by reaching out in love and mercy to those we encounter, beginning with our family.
Yes, we live in a world that is troubled, anxious and uncertain. The Infant Savior lying in the manger draws us beyond every difficulty to Himself, because only in Him and because of His mercy, will we experience hope that endures even unto life eternal. Let us respond to His love with open hearts and outstretched arms.
Please be assured that you and all those you hold dear will be remembered in the Holy Masses which I shall offer on Christmas and throughout the Christmas Season. You will all be likewise brought to the Lord in daily prayer throughout the approaching New Year. Please pray for me, that I might bring the concrete love of the Infant Jesus to all those who are in my pastoral care.
Faithfully in the Heart of Christ,
Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington
Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. The new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his pastoral letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.
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