Nativity of Our Lord 2015 – Christmas Pastoral Letter of Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.

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.’” (John 1:14-18)

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

We once again celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the City of Bethlehem! We gather together to remember the greatest gift by the Father of his only begotten Son. Following His example and the example of the three Kings we give one another gifts in honor of God’s grace and truth.

Little children wait for Christmas with the hope of receiving gifts. From their parents they learn to give gifts in return to family and friends. Each gift given reminds us of the great gift of the Father to us. And each time that we help someone we change, becoming a little closer to the image and likeness of God. The Christmas gifts we give and receive are small compared to the gifts of forgiveness and mercy.

The Father chose to announce the Good News of our Salvation through the birth of a little child in a cave. Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge before he would explain the new way to live. Jesus’s deeper explanation of divine grace and truth would build upon the Old Covenant between the Lord and the people of Israel. The Easter Gospel of Saint John describes the birth of Jesus and the fuller revelation as receiving grace upon grace.

In this Christmas during the Jubilee of Year of Mercy, we are called to share God’s grace with one another. If able, we are called to pass through the Doors of Mercy either in Rome or at our Cathedral during the year as a sign of our need to receive and to give mercy to one another.

Pope Francis encourages us “You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh