Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord – December 25, 2008

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Reverend Bishops, Clergy, Monastics, Brothers and Sisters,

We have come to the season of gifts. Gifts can be a sign of affection, respect, gratitude and love. Gifts not only bring joy to the recipient but also to the giver. In fact, very often people who give gifts receive more than the person who receives the gift. It is good for us to reflect on the gifts in our lives during this grace-filled season – gifts are a sign of love among people.

Love is what prompted God to give us our greatest gift, his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the Son of God and also the Son of Mary was born in a cave in Bethlehem. This is the season to remember the awesome gift that is Jesus.

All the other gifts flow from the prime gift of Love – Jesus, the Christ. The gift of creation, without which nothing would or could exist, is primary. Just look to the sky on a clear winter night and the magnificence of this gift bursts forth in the heavens.

From the gift of creation flows the gift of life itself. Today, this gift is often taken for granted and even destroyed by us without the understanding that life is a gift from God and must be protected from the womb to the tomb. The crucial reality of life brings into being community that is essential to the well being of society. The family is the prime unit of community from which society gains its strength. The family must be preserved and protected as the first good.

Some other gifts that we receive and sometimes take for granted are the gifts of spirituality, charity, youth, the church, music, and finally, the gift of vocation that each of us possesses.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember each other with the gift of prayer. Let us pray for the less fortunate, the homeless and cold, the poor and those with much, the ill and those enjoying good health, the joyful and those whose lives are filled with sadness and pain, the young and the old.

Asking the Lord to bless each one of you and fill your lives with the gifts that will bring you peace, joy and happiness, I remain

In the name of the Lord!

Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh