Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Advent blessings to you and your family. This time of the year we are blessed to celebrate the Birth of Our Savior. This is at the heart of the Good News – God becoming Man, in order to redeem and save us, and repair man’s fractured relationship with God. Our focus is on the Baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel.
In the second year of the Eucharistic Revival, it is helpful for the faithful of the Diocese of Gallup to delve deeper into the Mystery of the Eucharist. The best way to do this is through faithful attendance at Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, daily study and prayer, and most especially worthy reception of Holy Communion. I offer words from my Apostolic Exhortation Sacra Mysteria Venerari concerning the Incarnation and Birth of Our Savior. First, let us reflect on the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. 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 testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”
Saint John the Evangelist begins his Gospel with one of the most fascinating portions in all of Scripture (cf. Jn. 1:1-18). Whether examined for its literary qualities or its theological profundity, it has always provided a deep well from which to draw spiritual nourishment. So important have these verses been in the life of the Church that, until quite recently, they were read to the faithful at the end of every Mass as a reminder of the great work that God had accomplished in Christ.
Now, right at the heart of these verses is the truth that changed the world: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father” (Jn. 1:14). Elsewhere Saint Paul would describe the same matter this way as he sought to describe the reality of the Incarnation: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4). Essentially, what both of these saints are describing is the fact that the Father sent the Son to take on our human nature by assuming it unto His Divine Personhood. The Son became like us in all things but sin (cf. Heb. 4:14-16). This matter was then later taken up in the Church’s solemn profession of faith at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325. From that day to this, we pray regularly that “for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
May you and your loved ones have a blessed celebration of Our Lord’s Birth, and Our Eucharistic King reign supreme in your hearts.
Bishop James S. Wall