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Emmanuel: God is with you!

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

December 19, 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
At the Christmas Vigil Mass, we will hear St. Matthew tell us that “All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel,’ a name which means God is with us” (Mt. 1:22-23). Sometimes, when faced with the uncertainties and anxieties of life, it’s difficult to remember this awesome mystery of our faith: throughout all life’s struggles, God is with us!

To migrant families who are frightened and feel so vulnerable because government leaders have failed you – Emmanuel: God is with you! To children robbed of innocence because Church leaders have failed you – Emmanuel: God is with you! To moms, dads and children in Latakia and so many other places who are terrorized and feel isolated because you courageously live your Christian faith – Emmanuel: God is with you! Yes, believe it: God is with us! Our God never fails us.

Christmas 2018 is a beautiful occasion to recommit ourselves to embracing this truth of our faith. God has entered our world, was born among us, never to abandon us. Our God’s unconditional love and boundless mercy became flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ so that we might touch and see God’s constant compassion for every one of us.

In many ways, this has been a painful year. However, the upcoming days of the Christmas season are a graced time for you and me to focus our prayerful attention on all who yearn to experience, in a tangible way, God’s Presence in their lives. In this moment, when the Babe of Bethlehem brings light into gloom and darkness and the heavenly choirs sing of God’s Peace, we seek forgiveness and conversion of heart for the times we have failed to be instruments of God’s loving and merciful presence…when we have fostered polarization rather than reconciliation and healing.

Advent, Christmas, 2019 – all indicators that this is a time of new beginnings. May the Christ Child bring you and your loved ones the Gift of Love, the Blessing of Hope and the Promise of Peace. A blessed Christmas and joy-filled New Year!

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend
Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

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