My dear friends in Christ,
With the upcoming arrival of the commemoration of Christmas again, we are invited to reflect on how it is that God came into and among human existence with all its limitations and flaws. During these difficult days in the United States when we are charged with doing all we can to rid the evil of sexual abuse from our church, we place our hope and works, grounded in Christ, who desires that the church be purified and that our efforts will bear fruit. Christmas is a powerful sign of God’s desire to embrace all of our brokenness. His birthday is the most exciting day of all human history.
When this Christ event is deeply understood, it boggles the mind. After all, Jesus is the word made flesh that dwells among us; not among paid actors in a play, but among poor peasant parents who gave birth in a smelly feeding station or cave. God came to feed our hungry souls. Christmas truly shows us love among the ruins of our lives. When this child of God grew up, he was criticized for mingling with the marginal farm workers of the day; he touched the untouchable outcast lepers and said that he came to call sinners, not the just. He encountered and confronted the Samaritan woman at the well, and he gave a second chance to Zacchaeus, a corrupt politician. He died between two thieves. From cradle to grave the word dwelt among us.
The truth is that God lives all year among us. But often, in practice, we do a pretty good job of denying it. We think we are beyond his concern, his care, and his love. How is it that we believe this about a God who ached so badly to be among his first audience which was the dregs of society? God’s love for us is immeasurable regardless of whatever situations we may have in our lives.
May God bless you and your loved ones during this holy season!
Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa, D.D.
Bishop, Diocese of Fresno