Bishop’s 2015 Nativity Letter

Dear Clergy and Faithful of the Eparchy of Newton,

Christ is born! Glorify him!

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be Emmanuel, which means God is with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).

We often think of Jesus in the past tense – born in Bethlehem so long ago. We need to see him in the present tense – God with us. He is not far away in the heavens, but rather among us now sharing our sorrows, healing our pain, showing us that life has eternal value. He is Emmanuel – God with us!

The beautiful Hymn of Light from Christmas Matins refreshes us and renews our belief that God is merciful and loves us, and that his greatest gift was his Son born in the flesh to save us:

“From on high our Savior came, the rising Sun who shone from the East, to visit us in his mercy – we who sat in darkness and gloom. But now we see the Light of Truth for the Lord Jesus is born of the pure Virgin Mother.”

Do not leave Jesus in the past. See and recognize him today in each and every person you encounter. Reach out to the lonely, call someone in need, forgive a broken relationship, share the joy of God’s presence with others. Pope Francis reminds us for the Jubilee of Mercy: “Be merciful like the Father.” Experience the joyful presence of God in your heart as you celebrate his birth this Christmas: then share him and let others know how Jesus has touched you. Make God’s presence – God with us – a joyful “now.”

God’s great gift to us at Christmas is more than a code of ethics or philosophy; it is more than a series of commandments. It is a Presence – Jesus in our flesh, God with us. He is with us in trouble and in pain, and He is with us in sorrow. He wipes away our tears, in weakness and makes us strong. He gives us joy, and we share him with each other.

But most importantly, not just on Christmas day do we experience God’s great gift of Jesus. Continue Christmas even after the trees and decorations come down. We sing with the angels, we adore with the shepherds and magi. We rejoice with Mary and we must find Bethlehem each day of our life. The decorations can return to the attic or basement but Christ is meant for the living room of your heart and mine all year round. If we allow him to dwell in our life, there is no let-down feeling after the feast. His presence will make all the “days after” warm with His power, His forgiveness, His grace, His love.

My sincere thanks to all of you for your love and support. My prayers and blessings for a blessed season and a healthy New Year 2016.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton