Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
While this message will reach each of you a bit early, I nevertheless want to send to you my prayers and blessing as we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and the beginning of a new year. Please know that as you gather with family and friends for the Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I will be remembering all the faithful of the Diocese of Wichita in my own prayers and Masses.
The hope and joy of Christmas is something we always need, but perhaps now more than ever before. All around us, we see many people losing their hope and confidence. Many are facing uncertain futures, many are struggling with sickness – especially the pandemic which is far from over. Many have lost family, friends, and homes as we recently witnessed once again with the devastating tornadoes in many states. These and so many other concerns can often dominate our minds and hearts.
Nevertheless, we who embrace the Christian faith must see the world and our lives from a different perspective, from that of blessing and indeed we have many blessings for which to be thankful. The most important blessing is that we have Jesus in our lives, who was born of Mary and who came into this world to save sinners, to find the lost, and to give us a meaningful life. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. It is a timeless message but one that is critical for us in the times in which we are called to live.
For too many, Christmas is more a holiday than a holy day. If all Christmas is for us is a day to be with loved ones, to forget our troubles, to give and receive gifts, and to enjoy delicious food, then we have lost its importance. The true meaning and relevance of Christmas as a holy day and a holy season is nothing less than the appearance of the Savior of the world, the long-awaited Messiah and Lord, who has come to take upon himself our frail and vulnerable humanity in order to redeem it. Let us reclaim, renew, and restore this perspective in our hearts, in our families, and in our culture and world. Let us each be messengers of Christmas faith, hope, and love in our broken but not hopeless world.
So dear people, as we prepare to go to our churches to celebrate Christmas Mass, let us go with renewed faith and confidence in God’s love, which is made visible for us in the Child of Bethlehem. As we receive Him in Holy Communion on Christmas, let us take Him back to our homes, families, places of work, schools, indeed, wherever the New Year will take us so that like previous generations, we too will be missionaries of Christmas to a waiting and longing world. Thank you and God bless you all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
+ The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme
Bishop of Wichita