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Bishop Larry Silva's 2015 Christmas Message

December 23, 2015

He left the splendors and the glories of heaven to come to us here on earth. He humbled himself to become one of his own creatures. He, who existed for all ages in eternal love with the Father and the Holy Spirit, came down to earth to be despised, rejected, and a man of sorrows. He who was sinless took on the flesh of sinners. Such was the love of God for all of us human beings that Jesus became one of us, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary.

We gather Sunday after Sunday in the splendor of our churches, with wonderful people, beautiful music and inspiring words. We gather to remember what we so easily forget: that Jesus became one of us, died for us, and rose from the dead. At his first coming he was laid in a manger, the feeding trough of animals in the town of Bethlehem, which means House of Bread. Now he comes to us every Sunday and every day, laid upon the altar so that he can become our Bread of Life and remind us that we are not mere animals, but share in the very life of God.

But once we gather to be nourished by the Bread of Life, we, too, must leave the splendors and glories of worship to serve our families and our communities in the real world. We who were made little less than the angels must humble ourselves to reach out to those who have forgotten their own dignity or whose human dignity has been robbed from them by the cruelty or neglect of others. We who know that the Gospel is joy also know that making it become flesh in the world may lead to our being despised, rejected, a people of sorrows. We who struggle with sin but are set free by the mercy of God must now go out to others so that they, too, may experience the richness of God’s mercy.

How our hearts are warmed by this beautiful season of Christmas, with its music, its lights, its special gatherings and festivities! This is all a gift from God to help us celebrate God’s greatest gift to us, his only begotten Son. But the God who is merciful beyond all telling wants not only to warm our hearts but to set them on fire, so that the whole world can be ablaze with God’s merciful love. As we enter into intimate communion with Jesus, who accepted his mission to be God-with-us, we are sent out of our comfort zones on the same mission, to proclaim with every word, every deed, and every moment of silent awe that God has come in his mercy to save all people, to bring us peace, and to embrace us in his everlasting love.

A blessed Christmas to all!