Catholic Courier 12 01 2015 E Edition Page A2

A2 Catholic Courier Diocese of Rochester, NY December 2015 News &Analysis Bishop SalvatoreR. Matano From the Bishop Former rectory to serve as temporary homeless shelter Faith leaders say refugees from Syria, elsewhere require compassion, acceptance WORLD & NATION Committee releases new public-policy agenda Look for these HEADLINES under the section tabs at www.CatholicCourier.com REGIONAL LIFE LOCAL NEWS stable on a snowy night, a working man and his wife, and a baby lying in the straw among the animals had no significant relevance for us? During these days, the world of politics has received great media attention; so let us ask, first of all, what difference Christmas has made to our social institutions? The noble principles of justice, free- dom, equality, the dignity of the person, which all should be woven into the fabric of any social or po- litical movement, were they not born in Bethlehem with the very One who would command us to love one another? St. Paul gives us a blueprint of what the Christian ideal ought to be in the way of altering our human values. He writes to the Galatians: "All you who have been baptized in Christ's name have put on the per- son of Christ; no more Jew or Gen- tile, no more slave and freeman you are all one person in Christ" (Galatians 3:27-28). Insofar as the Gospel succeeded in enlightening the shadowy pagan world which surrounded it, the barriers which divided race from race, nation from nation, were due to disappear. And at the same time, the dignity of hu- man nature would be asserted; all people would stand before God as His sons and daughters and togeth- er raise their voices in praying Our Father in what Pope Francis re- ferred to as "the school of en- counter" during his Sept. 25, 2015, homily for Mass at Madison Square Garden, New York. When the shepherds go back to their flocks, we have not finished the story of Christmas. Their place at the crib is taken by the three wise men from the east, and Chris- tian belief has always emphasized one significant point about their Cardinal offers report on synod EDITOR'S NOTE: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and metropolitan of the New York province of bish- ops, was a participant in the re- cent Synod of Bishops on the family. He wrote a report on the synod for his Oct. 26 column in Catholic New York. Here are ex- cerpts from that column: At last year's synod on the family, several fathers proposed the method of Jesus on the road to Emmaus as the model for the Church's accompaniment of the family. You recall the story? As recounted in Luke 24, two disci- ples are leaving Jerusalem on Easter Sunday evening, having witnessed the crucifixion on Good Friday. They are discour- aged. They have lost hope. They have heard from others that Je- sus has risen, but they consider that news too fantastic to be true. The Risen Jesus draws alongside them in the guise of a fellow traveler and asks them why they are disconsolate. Jesus then pro- ceeds to restore their hope after opening their eyes to His pres- ence in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist. One of most insightful speech- es at the synod was that of Car- dinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who spoke precisely about Em- maus. He described for us (the) pastoral approach of the Lord Je- sus: "First, Jesus drew near, and accompanied his downcast disci- ples as they walked in the wrong direction, into the night. He started by asking questions about their present disposition and by listening to them, but he did not stop there. Instead, he challenged them with the Word of God: 'Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have de- clared!' (Luke 24:25) His presen- tation of the objective vision of Scripture broke through their subjective self-absorption and, along with his loving presence, brought them to conversion. The disciples of Emmaus accepted Continued on page A10 coming: The birth of the Savior was for the whole world; all humanity became brothers and sisters in the family of God when His Son, the Christ, became man. And so the an- gels sang: "Glory to God in the high- est, and peace to people of good will " And when the Christ Child was born, the fiat of a woman renewed the noble place of all women in the world. The historian and political theorist, William Edward Lecky (1838-1903), not particularly known for advancing positive views to- ward Christianity, wrote in his book titled History of the Rise and Influ- ence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe , this about the Mother of God: "The world is governed by its ideals, and seldom or never has there been one which has exercised a more profound and on the whole, a more solitary influence than the medieval conception of the Blessed Virgin. For the first time woman was elevated to her rightful posi- tion woman rose, in the person of the Virgin Mother, into a new sphere, and became the object of a reverential homage of which antiq- uity had no conception" (London, 1910, Volume I, chapter 3, p. 78). Yes, what would the world be like, if Christmas hadn't happened? And from that crib were born the most beautiful virtues of humility, charity and purity. In humility, the Son of God took upon Himself our humanity and our salvation was wrought through His humiliation upon a cross. Whether in a crib at Bethlehem, or on His knees wash- ing the feet of His disciples in the Upper Room of the Cenacle, or at table with publicans and sinners, or on the Via Crucis, or at last upon the cross at Golgotha, the Son of God was the humble, suffering servant whose life transformed the world forever! And charity! From Bethlehem we find the origin of the Good Shep- herd and, for the followers of Jesus, charity toward complete strangers has become a way of life, a habit with us. It has filled the world with hospitals and orphanages, schools, homes for the sick and dying, soup kitchens and sacrificial almsgiving Continued on page A10 Advent/Christmas 2015 "For He assumed at His first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so filled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation " My dear sisters and brothers in Christ: These words addressed to God, Our Father, and taken from Preface I of Advent , beautifully call to mind that we are now in the liturgical season of Advent, preparing for the great feast of Christmas, the birth of Our Savior, the Word become flesh: "he assumed the lowliness of human flesh and opened for us the way to eternal salvation " In contemplating the wondrous miracle of the Incarnation, one could ask: What would the world be like if Christmas had not hap- pened? How would everything be different, in this year 2015, if we had no year One to date it from, if the world were still waiting to be re- deemed? If the picture of a dark Christmas makes a difference

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