In two days we celebrate the arrival of the Savior of the World. Whereas Advent is the season of the "Absence of the Lord", infused with a firm hope in His coming, in Christmastide we celebrate with great joy the manifestation of His presence. The second person of the Trinity has truly become man, while remaining truly God. So Jesus Christ is true God and true man, the Savior of the world that was first promised immediately after the Fall of mankind and whose coming was announced by the prophets. Adoring the smiling child of Bethlehem leads us towards the knowledge and love of some of the most fundamental saving mysteries of the faith; and this in its own turn will bring us knowledge of the fullness of the faith. As priests have proclaimed for centuries in the Christmas preface to the Sanctus, "the recognition of our God made visible, draws us to love what is invisible."
Jesus Christ is the reason we have hope in the midst of the ruins in which we are living today. We have hope that if we live in accordance with His message, the noble ruins of the great civilization built by our ancestors will take new life, like the vision of the resurrection of the dried bones of Ezekiel. (Ez. 37, 1-14) These ruins reflect the confluence of the Jewish and Greco-Roman roots of our culture, molded and vivified through the action of the Church. At the same time it should be evident that the fact that Christ had chosen to be born in the classical Mediterranean world it does not mean that other cultures do not have valuable elements that can be also purified by the Gospel of Christ, and could serve as preparation for the Gospel, as we can see in many elements of the cultures of China and Japan.
The sense that today we are living in the midst of ruins is clearly reflected in the December 21 address of Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia. The Holy Father makes a fine comparison of the end of the Roman Empire with the crisis that affects our contemporary society. This crisis has two main causes; the infidelity of some men of the Church and the sad fact that world has rejected its Savior. Our world not only rejects Christ, but it also actively persecutes Christians, as in many places it is infected by Christianophobia.
The desert in which we are dwelling will become living again, first, if the ministers of Christ, as Saint Paul teaches in his First Letter to the Corinthians, remain faithful stewards of the Gospel; and second, if the world accepts the fact that it cannot really live in order and peace without obeying the life giving instructions of its Creator. At the same time it is clear that we priests have a special responsibility to be faithful messengers of the Gospel. We err when, due to a lack of zeal, we do not faithfully present the truth in its integrity, in denouncing evil and in promoting the good with the strength of the prophets or with the clarity of the doctors of the faith like Saint Thomas Aquinas. We also need to reexamine ourselves so as to totally avoid and detest serious sins. The Holy Father vividly reminds of this need in his address, quoting the powerful vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
May the child God lead us to repentance and to a new burning zeal in our lives and mission. This need is why HLI assists in the education of young priests and seminarians providing them with all the necessary tools to preach with courage and precision the Gospel of Life as an integral part of fullness of the faith. If we preach the faith in this manner the World will no longer experience the apparent absence of God.
Adoring the child that it is God, we are comforted by His smile and we are drawn to Him as we kneel to kiss his image, as thousands of faithful have done for centuries. Both saints and sinners approach the altar and venerate his image at the end of the Christmas Masses. All are called to come, no one is excluded. All are called to experience the love of the newly born Savior of the world. This veneration, if it is real, can have great effects; it leads the sinner to conversion, the tepid to a change of life, and the saint toward greater holiness.
This veneration will lead to a stronger presence of our Savior in our souls, and it will call us to action. This presence is not a mere passing affective sentiment, but is rather a concrete devotion to Him and His saving message. Adhering to the person of Christ we adore God, who is the source of all that we have and all that we hope to be. His saving message is a concrete doctrinal message that the Church has preserved and developed through the centuries through the action of the Holy Spirit. This message leads us in the first place to a stronger commitment to proclaim and to live the faith with integrity, avoiding even a shadow of the relativism that infects the contemporary world, and as consequence, to promote the social Kingdom of Christ. In the second place, and as a concrete part of this commitment, a decision to protect all human life from the moment of conception or biological beginning of the human being to his natural death; as well as the natural family which is the cradle willed by the Creator to generate and foster life, and is also an instrument for mutual support of man and woman in their quest for salvation. The God child in His pulpit of the cradle is telling us to reawaken our faith so that we will be able to restore His order to the world.
I wish all of you a happy and blessed Christmas. Christmas will be happy indeed if the God child truly becomes the King of our hearts and minds, and then becomes the King of society through the action of His grace and our untiring commitment.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Car�mbula
Interim President, Human Life International