Christmas Message of the Bishops of Alba Iulia
Dear brother priests, beloved faithful!
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Today, we meet many hopeless people, sometimes perhaps we ourselves see our life and world as hopeless, especially when alongside our aspirations for good we see competition, the domination of material things, the culture of death, the rule of the law of the pack. We are often confused by the bad events in our world.
Is there hope? What can we hope for? It is not the poor, the suffering, the deceived who are in trouble, but the one who has no hope. So, above all, let us have hope!
Jesus Christ gave the foundation of our hope to Nicodemus, who visited him at night: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). Man receives the gift of true hope only when he gets to know God, when he meets Him. "Anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life" (Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, 27).
To meet Him, to know Him, God incarnated and became a man: He was born into the world. He did it without calculating whether it was worth it or not. God did not lobby or seek our love in return. His love for us is a gift to us because we did not earn it. It is this love that bends down and becomes human that gives us hope.
For us, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is not an information, it is not a news story, but a reality that transforms us and carries our lives. God loves the world and people today as much as when Jesus was born, despite all our human weaknesses and frailties. God wants us to have hope, to have life, because a world without God is a world without hope and without life.
We can ask the question: did the birth of Jesus Christ make the world a better place? But before we start listing the many evils of history and the present, let's remember that the times are what people are, and "man must straighten himself up so that the times become better" (Servant of God Bishop Áron Márton, speech of New Year's Day, January 1, 1947). Man is not straightened by science, by economics, by success, by the position he occupies, but by that unconditional love that became man.
Criticising the world does not help: the criticism of our own Christianity must also align with it (Spe salvi, 22).
If we want to be a Church full of hope and life, we must recognize the need to start from the simplicity of the manger in Bethlehem. Without God we can do nothing (John 15:5): not a little, not something, but nothing.
Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus with the determination that we will strive to straighten up, so that the times become better "we must become genuine Christians again, to ennoble ourselves into human beings, in order to live a truly human life on earth, and become worthy of God's blessing". (Servant of God Bishop Áron Márton, New Year's address, January 1, 1947)
Contemplating the new-born child of Bethlehem let us realize that without God there is no hope and no life. Let this Christmas be for us one of renewal, of personal conversion and the starting point of love for our fellow men. Let's bring love and hope to those people whose faith flickers or is shaken.
Let us pray and act for the renewal of ourselves, of our families, of our smaller and larger communities, of our Archdiocese, which is our proposed goal for the Pastoral Year 2024.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, who through her yes, opened God's door to the world and who is the star of our hope, may she be an example of the renewal of our spiritual life. May she be our intercessor, may she educate us, let us believe, hope and love with her.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to our fellow priests, dear faithful, and all people of goodwill!
Alba Iulia, 25th December 2023,
+ Dr. Gergely (Gregory) Kovács, Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate of Romania
+ Dr. László (Ladislaus) Kerekes, Auxiliary Bishop of Alba Iulia, Vicar General
By the approval contained in the letter 3335/2023 of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia
Cu aprobare prin scrisoarea nr. 3335/2023 a Arhiepiscopiei de Alba Iulia