Bishop: Make the Mass the bedrock of our faith
Those who gazed upon the nativity scene on Christmas Eve at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception were much like those who pondered in awe of the infant Jesus lying in a manger, Bishop Carl A. Kemme said.
After welcoming the visitors from other parishes and cities, the bishop said he was grateful those attending chose to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation in the Cathedral that special night.
“The eyes of all believers are upon him, the Savior who was called Jesus and who was born for us so long ago in a lowly manger in Bethlehem,” Bishop Kemme said from his cathedra.
Nativities are holy events
The nativity scenes in churches and in homes depict the holy event, he said, where Mary and Joseph were forced to lodge because of the census ordered by Emperor Caesar Augustus. “It was there in that lowly place that Mary gave birth to Jesus, laid him in the manger trough, wrapped him in swaddling clothes to keep him warm.”
The shepherds were inspired to pay homage to the infant and, later, the Magi offered the three symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
“All of these familiar characters in the nativity scene looked upon him as we do tonight. But more than just look, they beheld, they gazed in wonder, contemplating the mystery of the Word made flesh, the glory of God revealed to us in the incarnation of his only begotten Son.”
Our faith allows us – like those present on that holy night – to contemplate the deeper meaning of the incarnation, Bishop Kemme said.
Like the mother and father of a newborn, he added, we are invited to gaze upon the baby Jesus with love. “We behold him as no ordinary baby, but as the Son of God, who has come to save us from sin and death, and to redeem us from our own self-destructive ways – to show us the way to heaven. All of that we must see and behold in the eyes of Jesus in a manger.”
Jesus beholds us, too
Jesus, too, beholds us, Bishop Kemme added. “He looks upon us as his brothers and sisters. He looks upon you and me as a child of God. His gaze upon us is not stern or judgmental but compassionate, longing, and loving.”
Jesus wants to share his life with us and wants us to share our lives with him, the bishop said.
Although we may wander into the lesser important things of life, into godless ways and worldly desires, we must continually fight and battle against, Bishop Kemme said, “his eyes of compassion and loving hope never leave us.”
The gaze of Jesus, his Father, and the Holy Spirit are eternal, he said.
The Mass is also a manger
“This is the true meaning, then, of this holy night. This incredible event not only happened many years ago, it happens again and again, in the Mass, which is the Bethlehem of today on this altar, and every altar like it around the world, which is the manger of our time, where we can behold him once again who was born for us sacramentally and no less really and substantially as the Bread of Life.”
The Mass is our opportunity to behold him who was born, lived, suffered, and died for us, he said.
“But let us never forget that here, behind the veneer of bread and wine, he looks upon you and me and desires to share his life in love with us again and again in Holy Communion.
“Let us, then, make the Mass the bedrock of our faith and that of our pilgrimage to the kingdom of heaven. Let us revitalize the Mass for ourselves and for our families by preparing with earnest and sincere anticipation and by going eagerly to each Mass as the shepherds and the Magi hastened to Bethlehem for here we behold him as he beholds us, remembering that beyond all doubt, we are loved by God.”