By Martha Noebel. It’s that time of year again. December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, special dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of “Merry Christmas” to those who pass us in the streets? Is this really Christmas?
Christmas is the gift of Jesus offering us salvation. For many people, Christmas is a time of sorrow. Many are saddened at Christmastime when they think of their loved ones who will not be able to come home for various reasons. Yet, Christmas can be a season of great joy. It is a time of God showing His great love for us. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to be born. His birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. They knew this was no ordinary baby. The prophets had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special child.
Through the sins of Adam and Eve, we have all inherited that sin nature. We need to have that removed. The only way is through Jesus. Jesus came so He could die on the tree of the cross for ALL of our sins. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, we can ask Him to come into our hearts and forgive us. Then, we are clean and made whole. We can know that by Jesus’s salvation we inherit eternal life. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” I John 1:9 We can truly be happy at Christmas! No matter what may be happening, we can know that we are His children. We become sons and daughters of God.
Then, look at Christmas in a new way this year. This is the year to invite Jesus into your heart. You will then have a “Merry Christmas.” The joy and peace you will receive will last all year as you look to God for all your needs to be met.
Jesus Is The Reason For The Season! Rejoice!
Thursday, December 24th ✶ Christmas Eve
11:00 am – Confessions (shrine)
4:00 pm Vigil Mass (preceded by choir concert)
Friday, December 25th ✹ Christmas Day
10:00 am Solemn Mass with incense
4:00 pm Mass
Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcoming the Prince of Peace
One of the questions faced by humanity which theologians, spiritual writers and thinkers throughout the centuries have tried to answer is: Why did God chose to save the world the way he did, by sending his only Son Jesus, to come and become one of us, to be subjected to the human condition, to suffering and death? Could God have done it differently, by the simple act of His word? There is a passage in the third chapter of the Gospel of John which may shed some light on this question. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God knew that with only His word we would not be convinced of his love and mercy; He knew we would need much more to change our lives and be converted in order to be saved. He knew we would need the presence of Jesus, we would need to see Jesus’ acceptance of God’s plan, Jesus’ willingness to empty himself of His godliness and become one of us. God knew we would need Jesus’ witnessing to the Father’s love and mercy for all of humanity to the point of giving His son to die for us. As pope Francis said when he announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”. Therefore, Jesus’ presence made all the difference.
The importance and meaning of Christmas is the gift of Jesus’ presence. First, we need to recognize His presence within ourselves, in our lives, our families, and our world. Then, once we accept His presence in our lives, we too become signs of His presence in the lives of others. In a time when individualism is emphasized, defended in every aspect of life and in every corner of the world, we need to recognize that none of us was made to be in isolation or to live for oneself.
During this year that is coming to an end, our world has seen so much suffering, violence and pain. We have witnessed terrorist attacks, endless wars, the shed of innocent blood, loss of innocent lives, so many hopelessly leaving behind their homes, their land, their history and seeking a future as refugees. We have seen children, too young to understand what is happening to them and their families, losing their lives too early.
When Jesus was born, the angel appeared to the shepherds and told them: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk. 2:14) When we welcome Jesus, embrace Him, hear His word, accept his teaching, and see his presence in our brothers and sisters, the peace that only God can give, will be truly ours.
My profound desire this Christmas and my wish to all my brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Fall River, is for the gift of the peace of Christ to reign in their homes, their hearts and their lives. My prayer is also for peace to prevail in our troubled and suffering world. My hope is that in 2016, all humanity may experience harmony and understanding regardless of race, color or religion. My wish is that there may be an end to racial discrimination and to religious persecution; that refugees find homes, orphans find families, the unemployed find jobs, and that we all find enduring peace.
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.
Bishop of Fall River
Thursday, December 31 ✹ St. Sylvester, New Year’s Eve
4:00 PM Mass
New Year, Friday, January 1, 2016 ✹
Our Church observes the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on this day. It is a holy day of obligation. Please attend our Mass at
Happy New Year 2016!
Another year starts and with it, new hopes and aspirations – a faint desire that sprouts in every human heart that speaks of happiness, prosperity and goodness to come. Happy New Year with warmest wishes. Thank you for your support throughout the entire year. Father.