December 25, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Rejoice! Our Savior is born! I wish you glad tidings on this holiest and exultant day. While our Christmas celebration looks very different this year, Christmas is not canceled. No pandemic can cancel the light, hope, and salvation that our Savior brings.
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 9-14)
That light reveals Good News. The birth of Jesus is God’s gift to us. We do not earn or deserve such a Savior, but we can accept this sheer gift of divine love with joy! The gift of salvation, the gift of faith, is not an inactive or passive thing. Faith is above all a relationship with a personal God, one that is meant to be both treasured and shared. Every relationship calls for a response, for an exchange of attentiveness and ongoing interest, and even love.
The first response we can make to God’s gift of Himself is authentic gratitude. From gratitude can arise the conviction that we want to live in harmony with the wisdom of God and Jesus’ example of selfless love. No better commandment can be found than the Great Commandment that Jesus taught: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves. This time of pandemic has brought us examples of this selfless love. We have witnessed how lovingly our doctors, nurses, and health care workers have cared for the sick and dying; people have increased their donations to food pantries and other charities to help those in need; people have run errands for their neighbors who may not safely leave the house. There are also the many acts that go unnoticed day to day.
Christmas is about who makes these acts of love possible: Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us from the self-centeredness that pulls us toward sin. He enables us to live his life in the world, making the gift of his love present to our time and place.
I encourage you to view the diocesan website (grdiocese.org) and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for Christmas resources and to stay connected to your faith and what is happening in the diocese. During this Christmas season, let us reflect on God’s unsurpassable love, and through our actions share our joy that Jesus, the Savior of the world, is born.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak
Bishop of Grand Rapids
Bishop of Grand Rapids