CHRISTMAS ENCYCLICAL 2012
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah 9:2
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
The Christmas season is a season of light. We see the decorative lights thatbrighten the night skies and herald the coming of the light of Christ intothe world. The light has returned; the light of the Nativity of our Lord andSavior has shattered the darkness of the world. While natural cycles causethe darkness of winter, the real darkness is human pride, cynicism, andisolation which tear apart our relations with God, our neighbor and theworld around us. The Nativity of Christ penetrates this darkness in the mostunlikely of ways, the birth of a child. We expect God to act dramaticallyand with might to correct our world, to put things right. In the Church weoften sing, “Who is so great a God as our God? He alone does wonders.” Butnot at Christmas, because in His Nativity, Jesus Christ enters the world inhumility and poverty, almost unnoticed, except for a great light that drawsattention. As a hymn of Vespers for Christmas says, “When the Lord Jesus wasborn of the Holy Virgin, all the world was enlightened. The shepherdswatched in the fields, the Magi adored and the angels praised in song.”
Most likely you will mark the coming of the light by decorating yourChristmas tree with lights, placing lights in your home, or placing candlesin your windows. Each one of these actions remind all who see them thatyours is a Christian home and you have important news to proclaim: Christ isBorn! and the world glorifies the Sun of Righteousness! The light has comeinto the world and his name is Jesus born of the virgin. Like the angles inthe Gospels we will go to our churches and sing the doxology, “Glory to Godin the Highest and on earth peace among men” Luke 2:14.
Beloved brothers and sisters, do not let the darkness of our age overpoweryou. It is easy to be cynical and bitter at this time. The news is filledwith ongoing war, financial disasters, endless political gridlock andwidespread crime. But because we are Christians we know that God is with us.The Almighty God kept His promise to send a Savior of His people. ChristJesus is Born. He is Emmanuel; He has entered our world and never left us.We are not alone. We know this in our hearts and we experience this is ourchurches, we are hopeful people. We can reflect the light of Christ in ourworkplaces, among our friends and neighbors, in our communities. We nolonger live in darkness, because we have seen the light of Christ. We canoverpower the darkness of our time through kindness and respect for allpeople. We can do this by our willingness to be generous stewards andphilanthropists in our churches and in our society supporting the many needsof both.
Parents will, in these days, read storybooks to their children at bedtime.They may attend a Christmas show at a theater. These are wonderful familyexperiences that will create a lifetime of memories. But do not limit achild’s understanding of Christmas to television specials or sugaryspectacles that avoid the real story of Christmas. This year, one night,open the Bible and read the story of Christ’s Birth. Tell your children youhave a beautiful story to share with them, one that changed the world andchanges lives. Tell them it is a love story, a story of God’s love for allof us.
May the light of the Star of Bethlehem, the light of Christ, illumine your path and shine in your hearts in these Holy Days of Light.
With Love in Christ the Newborn King,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco