December 18, 2015

A Christmas Message from Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.

(En español)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.In my column for this week, I write about God’s closeness to us. Nowhere is God’s intimacy with us expressed more profoundly than in our celebration of Christmas. Here we see the almighty God, maker of all things visible and invisible, reduced to the most vulnerable of creatures: a little child born in the homelessness and poverty of a manger and surrounded by shepherds and domestic animals.

God gave up everything in order to become one with us. You can’t get closer than that. He comes to us, and stays with us, through the gift of his body and blood, which we receive in the holy Eucharist.

His birth, an actual event in human history, is renewed each year in our celebration of the Christmas miracle! As I write in my column this week, “This is not an absent, remote or disconnected God. This God is one with us and draws us close to him through the intercession of a simple Hebrew woman chosen by God to be his Son’s mother.”

We might say that Christmas is the feast of “closeness.” It is the time when family and friends who are separated—by geography, by hurt or anger, or simply by the distances created by time—come together again to celebrate this joyous feast, and to renew their bonds with one another and, we hope, with Christ and his Church.

Christmas reunions can be wonderful. They can also open old wounds and bring back painful memories. To make Christmas joyful, we must be able to forgive one another. And we have to let go of past injuries—real and imagined.

This year, we celebrate the Holy Year of Mercy, a jubilee year proclaimed by Pope Francis to help all of us seek and find forgiveness.

What a wonderful way to approach Christmas! The greatest gift any of us will receive this year is the certainty that God forgives us, that he is close to us always, and that he loves us no matter what. The greatest gift that any of us can give to family members, friends, neighbors, fellow countrymen and strangers is the assurance that we will be merciful, too.

Christmas celebrates God’s closeness to us. It invites us to welcome God’s love and mercy into our hearts, and it challenges us to share this merciful love with others throughout the New Year!

My prayer for you, and for all our brothers and sisters in central and southern Indiana, is that you will feel God’s closeness this Christmas and share it generously with others!

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

Most Rev. Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Indianapolis

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