The friars and the staff wish all of you a very blessed and merry Christmas. I look forward to seeing you at the Christmas masses and the Holy Family masses over the weekend. Most parish activities are on hold as we focus on the birth of Christ and family visits. Be assured that the friars will be praying for you during these days. Bro. Philip celebrates his birthday on December 25! If you see him, don't forget to wish him a happy birthday.
Christmas is the first major feast of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which began on December 8. Many of you have gone to confession to prepare for the feast and have experienced the reassurance of God's forgiveness. Let us all look at the birth of Jesus as an act of God's mercy. How is God's mercy reflected in the coming of the Son into our world? The next section of Pope Francis' message, the Face of Mercy, reminds us that God prepared his people for the ultimate gift of mercy throughout the Old Testament and often in the psalms:
“Patient and merciful.” These words often go together in the Old Testament to describe God’s nature. His being merciful is concretely demonstrated in his many actions throughout the history of salvation where his goodness prevails over punishment and destruction. In a special way the Psalms bring to the fore the grandeur of his merciful action: “He forgives all your iniquity, he heals all your diseases, he redeems your life from the pit, he crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Ps 103:3-4). Another psalm, in an even more explicit way, attests to the concrete signs of his mercy: “He executes justice for the oppressed; he gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Ps 146:7-9). Here are some other expressions of the Psalmist: “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds… The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground” (Ps 147:3, 6). In short, the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this is a “visceral” love. It gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy. [par. 6]