Dearly Beloved of the Diocese of Lake Charles,
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled” (Luke 2:1). With those momentous words, St. Luke begins his account of the immediate circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. What strikes me and has struck so many over the years is the definite time dimension of those words.
St. Luke wants to make very clear that Jesus is an historical figure. He is born at a particular time and place. Augustus is Caesar, Quirinius is governor (Luke 2:2), Bethlehem is the town in Judea, and a census brings about the movement to the location. We are not dealing with myth or legend. This is not make-believe. St. Luke seems to be saying, “Check the facts.”
Into this history, the world’s history, time and place, the Lord of History is born. About this the Letter to the Hebrews speaks: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
We are invited to a personal relationship with Jesus. When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we want to come to know Him better. Christmas helps us to do this. Christmas introduces us to His mother, Mary. It introduces us to Joseph, John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, and the magi. Each tells us his or her story and how that story relates to Jesus Christ.
The Gospels and our worship will speak of Jesus. We will bring what we hear and celebrate into our homes. We will join around our Christmas trees and our dining room tables, and everything we do from gift giving to special meals will speak of Jesus.
It was a great blessing for me to celebrate Mass for the prisoners at the Calcasieu Correctional Center on Thanksgiving Day. I will return there to celebrate Mass on Christmas morning and go to C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center near DeQuincy to celebrate Mass on New Year’s Day. The prisoners attend Mass with such love and prayerful devotion. They are thankful for what God does for them. Along with my visit for Masses with the people of Cameron Parish on December 6 and 7, I saw many who had suffered and were still suffering. In their hearts, as well as ours, was a longing for Our Lord. May the Lord Jesus quickly come and be reborn in us.
I would ask you to do something more. Do not forget the homebound, the sick, and those in nursing or retirement facilities. Many of them have no family. No one will visit some of them on Christmas Day or over the holidays. For them Christmas is one of the loneliest times of year. Out of the love you have for Christ, make time to visit them. A simple visit, a simple gift, will mean a great deal to them
I extend my blessings to you and your families for Christmas and the Season that lasts through the New Year. May Jesus, born of a virgin, in time and place, continue to make His presence known to you.
+Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles