December 25, 2022

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:1). In the darkness of a world still groaning
for the dawning of light, we are reminded again that Christ our Light has come. Christmas is time for us to pause
and see this Light and feel its warmth. As we come to celebrate Christmas Masses together in our big parish family,
I pray that the light of Christ may illumine our mind and fill our heart to truly appreciate the grandeur of these holy

The Scripture readings for the various Christmas liturgies all proclaim the same mystery: The Incarnation. God not
only authors life and sustains it; He chooses to become one of us. In Jesus, we see “the image of the invisible God.”
The mystery of Christmas is a reminder that we are not alone. No matter our spiritual state, social status, physical
well-being, God came to be with us. The Emmanuel, the “God with Us,” shows up in the middle of our messy world
to bring us a message of hope and offer us a better way of life through unmerited gifts of grace and salvation. In
choosing to be born as a Child in a manger, God has identified completely with our humanity. Christmas proclaims
that whatever the circumstances of our life right now; grief or joy, struggle or success, faith or doubt, love or betrayal,
God has lived it himself in Christ, and He longs to live it with us.

Each year the celebration of Christ’s birth includes so many cultural and family traditions that highlight
the extraordinary mystery of the Incarnation. Examples of these traditions include the cherished customs of Las
Posadas celebrated in our own parish by the Hispanic community on Christmas Eve. This elaborate re-enactment of
the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem, in search of a safe refuge where Mary could
give birth to the Baby Jesus, is a powerful invitation to reflect upon the virtues of patience, hospitality, and charity,
so needed in our world today where many cannot find welcome in their moment of need. Another marvelous
parish tradition is the Christmas Concert, also on Christmas Eve, featuring our English Choir’s live performance of
sacred music in a variety of styles and languages. This much-anticipated event draws out the meaning of the
Incarnation through the beauty of musical arts down the centuries. Another great tradition is the Christmas
Pageant performed by the Religious Education children at the first Christmas Eve Mass in English, and the
moving dramatization of the Christmas story, performed by children and youth at the Midnight Mass in Vietnamese.
All these wonderful traditions, in addition to the now popular Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Blessing of the
Outdoor Nativity Scene, are powerful moments that draw people into the spirit of the season and help them to
appreciate the mystery of God becoming one with us. In most Catholic homes, Christmas would not be complete
without some activity that reminds them about the reason for the season, from decorating a manger scene to
preparing and exchanging gifts, etc. These and many other Christmas traditions help make the meaning of Christmas
come alive. They can be the first motivation that bring certain people to church.

We often hear the words spoken or sung about being “home for Christmas.” Christmas has a way of bringing to
Church individuals and families who, for various reasons, have not been to Mass or the Sacraments for months
or years. What a wonderful and grace-filled opportunity to put aside past differences and old habits and begin
anew that relationship with the Lord and His Church community. Just like our own families, there is no perfect
church family. But we need one another! Some of you may have been hurt at some point by a relationship or even
a situation at church. Yet, your heart still knows that the Church never ceases to be your spiritual home. Most of
you still attend Holy Mass faithfully despite all that imperfection. A few of you perhaps are just waiting for an
invitation. I extend to all of you an open, grateful heart of welcome: Come home for Christmas! Together, may we
grow in strength and grace to know and celebrate together God’s presence in our midst.

Wishing you all a Blessed Christmas Season, and asking you to pray for your priests, for myself and my mother as
we make a three-week trip to our homeland Vietnam after Christmas, I assure you of my remembrance at the
Altar always.

Merry Christmas!!!
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham