President’s Christmas Message
My dear sisters and brothers,
It has been called “the greatest story ever told.” Two thousand years ago the angel appeared to shepherds in a field and told them, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day a Saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
One year ago, we were beginning our Great Jubilee pilgrimage, proclaiming “Open wide the doors to Christ.” We were called like the shepherds to be witnesses to Christ among us, witnesses of his love and truth, witnesses of his suffering and great redemptive act for all humankind, and witnesses of his forgiveness and mercy. As this Jubilee Year draws to an end, we are left with tremendous challenges for the new millennium, just as the shepherds were challenged in that cold and lonely field back then.
It is true that we have been blessed, especially in this country, with untold wealth and opportunities, technological advances at a pace this world has never seen, and medical advances that the shepherds would have considered miracles.
Yet there is still much suffering here at home and around the world. Poverty, hunger, disease, war, divisions, and all forms of abuse and slavery, so much of which affects children. Innu children in Labrador seeking solace by sniffing gasoline. One in five children in Canada living in poverty. Not hundreds of thousands but millions of the world’s children abandoned, impoverished and hungry; conscripted into armies, forced into prostitution, forgotten in refugee camps. The silent cries of so many unborn children. In the Holy Land, children sheltering from bullets, and in Bethlehem, where the Christ child was born, the churches closed this Christmas because of unrest and violence.
This is the challenge that the Spirit gives us all. To give flesh to the presence of God, just as Mary did when she said yes, and as her husband Joseph did as he stood by her. To bring our treasures before the Lord, just as the wise men did, travelling long distances to witness to the Light of the World. As we journey to the manger, our gifts, our true treasures – our compassion, our generosity, our involvement and our time – these too become manifestations of Christ.
The beginning of a new millennium is a moment of great joy and expectation. I wish every one of you the most profound peace and happiness that Christ can bring. May you and your families be blessed by the loving presence of God as you share this loving presence with others.
Your brother in Christ,
XGerald Wiesner, OMI
Bishop of Prince George
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops