A Christmas letter to all the faithful

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

These words of the angel to the shepherds on the night of the Nativity are, as the angel said, “for all people,” including us. They bring us joy and hope. God entered our history. He became Emmanuel, God-with-us. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He took our sins upon Himself as if they were His own. Out of love, God united Himself to us in order to communicate His life to us, to save us from sin and death. He opened for us the road to His heavenly Kingdom. The Son of God assumed our human nature so that we might share in His divine life. 

The great gift of Christmas is Jesus. He is God’s gift to us: the gift of Himself. God gave Himself in His only-begotten Son. He took on our humanity to give His divinity to us. This is the most amazing truth of our faith. It was never imagined that God would become man. It was beyond anyone’s dreams that the almighty and eternal God would enter history as a newborn baby. The Incarnation was beyond any human expectation. When we contemplate the mystery of Christmas, we become like the shepherds and magi: All we can do is approach the mystery in adoration, with wonder and awe. We sing: “O come let us adore Him.”  

I hope you will spend time during these days to contemplate the mystery of Christmas, to meditate on the Nativity of Jesus. I like to do so at the side of Mary and Joseph, the privileged witnesses to the birth of the Son of God into the world. I imagine Mary wrapping the infant Jesus in the swaddling clothes and laying Him in the manger (which I imagine Joseph the carpenter prepared for the newborn baby). I think of the love of Mary and Joseph for their infant son, God’s Son. The child in the manger looked like other newborn infants, yet His identity as the Son of God, true God and true man, certainly filled Mary and Joseph with the greatest awe. 

Pope Francis recently proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph.” I recommend meditating a bit on Joseph this Christmas. In faith, Joseph understood that the baby in the manger was the Son of God, yet he (Joseph) was called to be His earthly father, to be His guardian. What an amazing vocation! Pope Francis’ recent apostolic letter begins with these words: “With a father’s heart: that is how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as