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Bishop’s Christmas Message for 2022

May Christmas be the start of many coming to Bethlehem every Sunday.

By Bishop Larry Silva
December 25, 2022

Get ahead! Be successful! You can be whatever you want to be! These are messages that constantly bombard us and that shape our lives more than we wish to admit. They all reinforce the notion that each one of us is our own god, and that we and we alone make ultimate decisions for ourselves. But when we take this burden upon ourselves, thinking that divinity builds us up higher and higher, we ultimately collapse and fall. Being god is to carry a burden none of us is fully equipped to carry. Moreover, lesser gods tend to compete with one another, since there is only so much room at the top. Is it any wonder then that we experience an increase in demonizing one another. (If I am god, and you do not agree with me, you must be a demon!) Is it any surprise that suicides are skyrocketing? How can a mere human being bear the burden of being god?

But despite the deceptive slogans and noises that convince us we must promote ourselves more and more, angel voices can still be heard proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!” The first to hear this angelic message were those who knew they were not gods, those whom society considered of the lowest rank: shepherds. But their message is still sung today and is more relevant than ever.

They sing “Glory to God in the highest,” indicating that there is only one God who is above us all, and that to him alone belongs glory. Yet this God does not exalt himself, but makes himself little. He becomes a human being, even though he knows humans are weak and sinful. His entry into the human world is in the most humble surroundings: a stable, where animals are housed; with a manger for his bed, which is a feeding trough for beasts. He goes on to make himself so little that he gives up his life in sacrifice for the vilest sinners, but shows his divinity by conquering death for us. He then makes himself little again by coming down from the splendors and glories of heaven to take flesh and blood in the humblest bread and wine, the Living Bread come down from heaven! Then he humbles himself even more by inviting us beastly creatures to come to the manger and to eat his Body and drink his Blood in the Eucharist!

The angels’ message, however, was twofold because they wanted us to know that only in giving glory to God in the highest, the true and living God, can there ever be true peace on earth. The Church insists that its members are obliged to give glory to God in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, a word which means “thanksgiving,” because it knows that only in giving glory to the true God can we who try to be gods ourselves find true peace and happiness.

So many have strayed away from this angelic message because they have been deceived into thinking that God is not necessary, since we can all make ourselves gods. Christmas again is our ev-angel-izing moment, reminding us that if we first give glory to God in the highest, there will indeed be peace on earth and goodwill among all. And so, we are called again to “Come to Bethlehem and see,” since Bethlehem means “house of bread” and the Catholic Church is the house of the Bread of Life. We are called to the manger, at which we who can be so beastly are given a Food that can transform us and truly give us peace.

We might wonder how such a little gesture of our attending Mass could have such an influence on the world, but our answer lies in the Mighty God who made himself so little, who entered our lives so undramatically, and who still has the power to bring his healing and peace to the world through those who become what they eat, who become one with God himself by feeding on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

May Christmas be the start of many coming to Bethlehem every Sunday, so that the angels can continue to sing a song that is not fantasy or romantic wishful thinking, but the reality that can change the world. Then we will become the angelic voices that sing to all: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!”

Christmas blessings to all!