Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In 1223, at a time when Italian cities were involved in on-again, off-again wars with each other, at a time when society was undergoing tremendous change from an agrarian to an urban economy, at a time when peoples’ faith had grown lukewarm, a Little Poor Man sought to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ birth.
So, in the little town of Greccio, this Poverello built a crèche . . . a stable . . . complete with live animals . . . for the celebration of Christmas Midnight Mass.
He built it to remind everyone that the Prince of Peace was born a lowly and vulnerable baby.
He built it to remind everyone that God had embraced poverty and humility, had shed power and glory, for our sake.
He built it to reawaken faith in hearts that had forgotten the Child of Bethlehem.
The story goes that as Francis, the deacon, sang the Gospel and preached the homily, one of his companions even saw a vision of a child in the empty crèche . . . and that in the days that followed the hay taken from the stable led to many miraculous healings of people and animals alike.
Many today still suffer from on-again, off-again conflicts.
Many today are still oppressed by economies that privilege the few who place commerce over compassion and products over people.
For many today, faith has also grown cold and the Child of Bethlehem is relegated to the margins, irrelevant in our day-to-day life.
As we put out our Nativity scenes this year, my hope is that they become more than decorations, more than something we do just because we’ve always done it . . . but a real reminder of the great gift who is Jesus Christ, the Word become Flesh, sent that we might be healed and made one. Sent so we might see that violence, that riches, that power are — in the end — only illusions.
As the Apostle Paul reminds us: only faith, hope and love last. Of these, the greatest is love.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Martin Amos
Bishop of Davenport
Bishop's Christmas Message also available in Spanish
Response to the President's Announcement on Administrative Relief for Immigrants
“Bishop Amos joins with the other bishops of the United States in welcoming the executive action proposed by President Obama to defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families. This action is an important step in protecting many of the families who are subject to current immigration laws that force the separation of family members. However, only comprehensive immigration reform will address many of the flaws in the present immigration legislation.”
“At the same time, the Diocese of Davenport cautions those who are potentially affected by the President’s proposals to wait for the official wording of the executive action and the government implementation of the necessary rules and procedures. The Diocese recommends that people seek counsel from a licensed attorney with immigration experience or an immigration counselor accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA, an element of the US Justice Department).”