Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Christmas Masses
“It is now possible for you and for me to know God’s love in a way that simply was not possible before the Word became flesh and dwelt among us – before Mary gave birth to a child that was both hers and God’s.”
December 25, 2013
HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, blessed the crèche and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Christmas Eve and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Christmas Day.
“Christmas celebrates the most remarkable moment in human history. God has come among us in Jesus Christ. What we celebrate is the recognition that God is truly with us,” he said in his homily.
“But Christmas is about a lot more than what happened all those centuries ago,” the Cardinal said. “It is now possible for you and for me to know God’s love in a way that simply was not possible before the Word became flesh and dwelt among us – before Mary gave birth to a child that was both hers and God’s. Here we learn the secret of true Christmas joy which does not consist in having a lot of things. The joy of Christmas is knowing we are loved by the Lord who chose to become one of us so that we might know his love for us. Jesus loves us so much that he offers us a share in his divine life.”
The Cardinal also explained the custom of making the crèche, or nativity scene, that St. Francis of Assisi began almost 800 years ago in Italy because the infant Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many people.
“By re-creating the poverty of the stable of Bethlehem, Francis wanted to foster a deeper awareness of the humanity of Christ, and at the same time teaching us to see with the eyes of faith so that we could recognize how God became a tender little child out of love for us.” The Cardinal continued, “In that tiny child in the manger, heaven and earth touched. God actually enters into our world by becoming one of us.”
“But there is more,” said the Cardinal. “As Pope Francis tells us in his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, we are expected to let this encounter with Christ renew us every day and lead us to recognize our solidarity with our brothers and sisters and especially those most in need – the poor.”
“Pope Francis tells us, the joy of the Gospel is only complete when we are prepared to share the Good News, first in our ordinary life with all of those who are already a part of household of the faith. Then we are challenged to bear witness with the joy of our lives to the truth of the Gospel to those baptized who lives do not reflect the demands of baptism – to those for whom the Gospel has lost its joy.”
The Cardinal concluded his homily, “We are called to realize that the mystery of God with us – of heaven and earth touching – continues here this day. Just as surely as the child Jesus in the manger was God with us, so in the celebration of the Eucharist – Holy Mass – God is truly present with us.”
“Today as we gather for the celebration of Christmas Mass and the realization that Jesus continues to be with us in the Eucharist, let us open our heart in gratitude and love.”
After the Christmas Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Cardinal stopped in to visit the guests who were in attendance at the Shrine’s Christmas dinner. In an annual tradition, volunteers serve a free Christmas meal to those who are alone or are in need, and deliver additional meals to families throughout the region, serving more than 1,600 people each year.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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