By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published December 20, 2012
This entire season is all about a Baby and the time we spend waiting anxiously for the birth of that Baby. Babies tend to bring joy to every human heart no matter where they happen to be born.
This past year several of our staff members at the Chancery were blessed with the birth of a new baby. Those homes will be filled with a special joy this Christmas as they celebrate with their new youngsters. Three different families here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta that I have the very good fortune to know personally also welcomed a first grandchild this past year—and the hearts of those grandparents are renewed this Christmas as their families have entered a new generation with the births of those first grandchildren.
God has given us His Only Begotten Son born of a Virgin Mother to enrich all of our lives. God understands how much joy is to be found in the birth of a baby—especially One whose mission is to bring not only joy but salvation. Each baby that has arrived in a family’s life in this local Church has brought a host of blessings: joy, happiness, hope and renewal—but only One Baby’s Birth brings eternal life.
As we approach the Christmas Mystery this year, we do so with the residual sadness that has marked the lives of the people of Newtown, Connecticut, as parents have lost a child, lost a friend or neighbor, lost a public school teacher or administrator. At the very moment when we all joyfully praise and thank God for the babies that happen to fill our lives, we ask that same God to comfort those who have lost one of their little ones to senseless violence. We all know that the Divine Infant born at Christmas will Himself become the victim of a violent death that He willingly endured for our salvation. But that episode which will surely come in the future is not the immediate focus of the Christmas moment because the birth of a Baby is the dominant blessing that we now celebrate.
Babies are not ordinarily associated with violence and death, but this year for the people of Newtown, it will be different. Indeed for many folks throughout the United States of America and indeed the world, we will think about this tragedy that is still too present for all of us—perhaps because it stands in a long line of other recent tragedies, as yet another moment when random brutality has stunned the human heart and ruptured the peace and security of unsuspecting families.
Many people will come to church on Christmas and we warmly welcome them all—our regular worshipers and those who worship with us only occasionally. The birth of the Christ Child tends to draw people together—in families, in parishes, across cultures, races and socio-economic conditions.
The Birth of the Baby born in Bethlehem is a unifying moment in our world. This Baby was born to help us all feel closer to one another, to break down the barriers that ordinarily separate us from one another, and to create one family out of the human race. Maybe that’s why we await His Birth so anxiously because we all know what it means to be alone, isolated and estranged from other people.
May this Baby’s Birth this year be a special healing moment for all of us—especially for the families in Newtown, who this year need an exceptional expression of the love and comfort that radiates from the Baby from Bethlehem whose birth is intended to be a source of joy and salvation for us all.
Merry Christmas my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. May this healing and holy season bring each one of you peace, joy and comfort.
May 2013 be a year of hope for us all.