Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At Christmas our thoughts are focused on an event which took place two thousand years ago, namely the Birth of Christ. With the inner eye of our imagination we see enfolded in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger, Him promised from ages past. With the eye of faith we recognise the Word made Flesh * the Son of God; and with shepherds and kings we adore him.
Like every mother, but with a greater intensity, Mary prepared herself for his coming, and was the first to receive him, in her womb and in her maternal embrace.
We celebrate this Christmas in the context of the Year of the Eucharist. The Holy Father who has instituted this Year, remarks with regard to Mary: "In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic Faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the incarnation of God's word*.thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord's Body and Blood" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia No.55).
Therefore, not only in our imagination, and in a sense looking back, do we adore him who has come. Even now, with the humility of faith, we welcome him in the Mass and in our personal communion.
The Eucharist also provides a foresight of the fullness of joy promised by our Lord (cf. Jn. 15:11); As such it nourishes our hope. "It is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the 'pledge of future glory'" (ibid).
May Christmas be for each one of you and your families an occasion of joy, and your Christmas Mass and communion a foretaste and pledge of eternal glory.
With my warmest greetings,
Yours devotedly in Christ,
+ Mario Conti