The Christmas Challenge

12-23-2018Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” – St. John 1:14 The solemn celebration of the Incarnation of our God begins. Incarnation literally means “taking on flesh.” We celebrate the amazing fact that God the Son, the eternal, Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, through the power of the Holy Spirit, took on human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was born for us at Christmas to be our Savior. And yet, in times past as today, the Savior is not always well received:

“Why would the arrival of a tiny baby, who would grow up to bear a message of love, have excited such negativity? We must remember that the child is described as a king, which means someone who comes to rule; more precisely, he is characterized as king of the Jews, and this was the very title that Herod claimed. Therefore, Herod, quite correctly, saw him as a threat to his prerogatives and position. … The trembling of all of Jerusalem at the birth of the baby king is a function of the demand that that king will eventually make, the change that his rule will affect. … Herod, having been duped by the Magi, furiously lashed out, ordering the murder of every boy in Bethlehem under two years of age. Not exactly the reaction of someone who is just delighted that the Christmas season has arrived! …

“Luke sets up his story as the tale of two rival Emperors: Caesar, the king of the world, and Jesus, the baby king. While Caesar rules from his palace in Rome, Jesus has no place to lay his head; … while Caesar surrounds himself with wealthy and sophisticated courtiers, Jesus is surrounded by animals andshepherds of the field. And yet, the baby king is more powerful than Augustus—which is signaled by the presence of an army of angels in the skies over Bethlehem. All four of the Gospels play out as a struggle, culminating in the deadly business of the cross, between the worldly powers and the power of Christ. For Jesus is not simply a kindly prophet with a gentle message of forgiveness; he is God coming in person to assume command. He is the Lord. And the entire New Testament couldn’t be clearer that his Lordship means that all those who follow a contrary rule—meaning, pretty much every one of us—are under judgment.

“To be sure, the distinctive mark of Jesus’ Lordship is love, compassion, forgiveness, and non-violence—but this is not the stuff of sentimentality and warm feelings. It is a provocation, a challenge, a call to conversion of the most radical kind.” – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On Fire

Know that your intentions and those of your loved ones will be remembered in all of my Christmas Masses. On behalf of Fr. Raymond and Fr. Hepner; our Deacons Bob Pierce, Pat Mongan, and Steve Platte; and the staff and faculty of St. Mary’s parish and school, I wish each of you, parishioners and visitors and your families, a Holy and Merry Christmas.

O come let us adore Him!
Father Wilson