By Cardinal Robert W. McElroy
The beauty of God’s gaze looked down upon the earth and graced us with the gift of Jesus, born in a manger, impoverished and homeless, but surrounded with love. It was the defining moment of human history, a sign that God’s love for us is without any limitation whatever, for God was willing to enter fully into our human existence, to know the joys of our life and every form of human suffering, so that He might accompany us at every moment of our pilgrimage on this earth and unto eternity.
Jesus spoke with compassion to all those who were adrift and afraid. He unveiled the truest pathway to sustained happiness in this world in the Beatitudes. He showed his unwavering care for those who were in need of healing and consolation. He sought out all those who felt alienated and alone.
We stand in a moment in which wars rage all around us, when family life is under siege on many levels, when solidarity within our society is frayed and worn.
Yet still, and overwhelmingly, we Catholics are called to be overwhelmingly people of hope. So many people misunderstand the meaning of Christian hope. It is not the belief that everything always comes out all right. No, that is mere optimism, not Christian hope.
Christian hope is the recognition that, in all of the challenges of our lives and our world, God finds a way to come to us and walk with us, to console us and lift us up, to truly help us become men and women of the Gospel whose joy is at the core of our souls, because we have been redeemed and already live in this world as citizens of heaven.
So, as we contemplate Jesus born in the manger this Christmas, as we see the beauty of these days reflected so powerfully in the eyes of children who most purely recognize the presence of God in our midst, let us remember profoundly that God chose us personally and irrevocably on this great feast of Christmas, and chooses us still, to embrace with divine love.