By Most Reverend Steven J. Raica, Bishop of Gaylord
“Silent night! Holy night!” We are all familiar with the words of this beautiful and evocative Christmas carol. Even when youngsters are restless at Christmas Mass, there is something about this carol that makes young and the not so young, sing with reverence and awe. For some this time of the year is so wonderful … the lights, the spirit of the season, the moments in which we can reflect on the event that changed everything. For others, it is a time of anxiety and worry of not having loved ones close by or being able to live up to the cultural expectations and demands of the season.
At the very heart of the season, of course, is not the gifts or greeting cards given and received, but rather a deep sense of gratitude to God that we have not been forgotten. When our ancestors were looking for someone to come and save them, an answer finally came in an unexpected way. It was not some type of political super-hero to save the day. Rather, it was the form of a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. On that first “Silent night! Holy night!” the event, we are told in the Scriptures, was witnessed by the shepherds and a few others passing by. It was on that night, that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was born into our world with all the fragility of any newborn. It was on that night that Jesus was born into a family – with Joseph and Mary. It was on that night that Jesus became a factor of history and of our lives today.
This year, through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, through his birth into a family, through our remembrance of this fact that continues to impact us now, may we express our gratitude to God for providentially caring for us. As we ponder upon this great mystery, may our hearts welcome Him into our lives each day. May Jesus become the source and center of our lives, our Prince of Peace, our Emmanuel (God with us), our Lord and Savior. May we allow Him to walk with us and show us how to live life as His disciple. Perhaps, that was the reason for the Savior to come upon the earth … to attract us and magnetize us to see in each other the mystery and wonder of God’s presence already here because of that “Silent night! Holy night!”
On behalf of the entire Diocese of Gaylord, I extend to each and every one of you my very best wishes for a blessed and holy Christmas … and a peace-filled New Year!