Bishop McKnight: Let the light of Christmas banish fear


Christmas light forever changes all it touches.

It radiates through the ages, pushing back the darkness and revealing aspects of God’s wisdom and love.

“What we celebrate today is not merely something that happened 2,000 years ago, but what continues to happen in our day and in our world, even in our brokenness,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight proclaimed on Christmas Day.

“The Mystery of Christmas changes us and the world around us!” the bishop observed.

He was offering the Mass at Dawn in the gymnasium of St. Joseph Cathedral School, as the Cathedral is undergoing a substantial renovation.

“As we look forward to the transformation of our Cathedral Church and our return to the ‘House of God’ and ‘Gate of Heaven’ for the celebration of Mass, let us never forget the poverty of the Christ Child in the manger,” the bishop said.

“It is here, in this very room, that we are close to our God and Maker because of His self-gift to us in the Blessed Sacrament,” the bishop said.

Be like Joseph

Bishop McKnight urged the Christmas congregants to be watchful for God’s light at work in their lives.

“God’s plan for us, what is yet to come, is beyond what we can imagine,” he insisted. “Let us not be afraid to experience change and trust in God’s providence for us.”

He pointed out how even a righteous and devoutly observant man like St. Joseph needed help seeing his place in God’s miraculous plan for salvation.

“In Matthew’s account of the birth of our Lord,” the bishop noted, “Joseph had almost given up because of Mary’s pregnancy. He had a reverential fear for the great mystery of her Child — not anger for Mary being pregnant.”

Joseph was aware of God’s promise to send His People a Savior, and of the messianic sign prophesied by Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“Now, seeing Mary as both virgin and mother, (Joseph) stands before the fulfillment of that prophecy,” said Bishop McKnight.

And like numerous prophets who came before him and countless disciples who came after him, Joseph was overcome with his own inadequacy and unworthiness.

God sent His angelic messenger to help Joseph stay focused on his appointed task, telling him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.”

“Or, in other words,” said Bishop McKnight, “‘Do not be afraid of your vocation, your calling in life.’”

Joseph believed and acted.

Accordingly, “the mystery of Christmas changed Joseph into SAINT Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus,” said the bishop.

Everyone else who celebrates the Mystery of Christmas is also subject to being changed by God’s light.

“It encourages us not to be afraid to fulfill our own vocations as disciples of the Christ Child,” the bishop noted.

“Our Christmas faith is the belief that even with humanity’s brokenness and unworthiness, we still have hope for a new world to come,” he said.

“We are called to shine like the stars before the darkness of our world.”

Journey of encounter

Bishop McKnight asked for prayers for him and a delegation from this diocese who were leaving later on Christmas Day for a mission trip to Uganda.

Four priests now serving in this diocese are from there.

“Please pray for the safety our group, and that we may faithfully represent the faith and charity of all the people of our diocese to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Church in Uganda,” he said.

“Pray that we may be a tangible expression to them of our fraternity and charity in faith.”