Do Not Be Afraid

My dear friends,

With all my heart I wish to you and your families a most blessed Christmas, filled with the joy and peace of Christ. This will be our second Christmas together—praise God! I pray God will give us many more.

The first pulpit of our Lord was the crib—the wooden manger—from there He preached His first, and in some ways, His greatest sermon. But it’s a sermon without words, a message conveyed in the silence of a sleeping, newborn child. It’s amazing how God, in taking on our human nature, is first present to us as a little infant, that he wanted our first encounter with His saving Mercy to be in the defenseless weakness of a child. This little child is God revealing Himself to us, speaking to us through littleness, helplessness, through the gentle, tender bearing of an infant. What is God saying to us?

The words of the angel to the shepherds break the silence of this moment, with the message: “Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The awesome glory of the Lord that shines around the angel, that made the shepherds afraid, is completely hidden in that little babe.

Perhaps this is why God speaks and comes to us in this way, hiding his majestic glory in weakness and littleness, so that we would not be afraid to approach Him. And God has not changed His way with us, for something similar and just as amazing happens at every Mass. In fact, at every Mass the mystery of Christmas is renewed in a very real and concrete way.

It is no accident that Bethlehem, the city where Christ was born, means “House of Bread?” How providential, that the One who would later say “I am the Bread of Life,” and who would give us His Body in the form of bread and ask us to eat it in memory of His saving passion and death, is born in the city named “House of Bread.”

As God comes to us helpless, little, gently and tenderly in the infant Christ, so too in the Eucharist does He come gently and quietly, making himself helpless and small in our hands and on our tongues. The infant Christ and Christ in the Eucharist repeat the same message as the angel: “Do not be afraid.” Who of us is afraid of a little baby? Maybe of dropping it, nervous like a person holding a baby for the first time. Likewise, is it possible to be afraid of that small, round, white consecrated host that is placed in our hands and on our tongues in Holy Communion? Perhaps here, too, we may be afraid of dropping it, of treating it irreverently or disrespectfully. Yet, wonder of wonders, both the babe of Christmas and the Consecrated host are truly the God-man, Jesus Christ, fully human and fully Divine.

May our joyful and grateful adoration of Jesus Christ today, truly present in that child of the manger, express itself with equal wonder at His becoming truly present to us in the bread and wine we place on this altar—coming to us quietly, gently, and tenderly to say again to each of us: “Do not be afraid, I come to you as your Savior. Trust in my love for you; trust in my desire to save you and show you Mercy.”

So on this Holy night/day, with Mary, Joseph, the angels, and shepherds, together with the whole Church, we rejoice—for given to us in the bread we eat and the cup we drink is the same Savior that was born for us, Christ the Lord.

God love you,

Fr. Steven



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