Bishop Hying

The bishop's Christmas message

     As we celebrate the joyous feast of Christmas once again, the tender mercy of God never fails to move our hearts! God truly has compassion for all the limits, difficulties, sufferings and setbacks of our human condition, so much so that He became human himself, accepting the totality of our experience with the only exception of sin. God enters the world, unbidden and unnoticed, born as a fragile child on the fringes of the Roman Empire to parents, homeless and poor. Mercy is the name for this “love coming to the rescue” of our sin and death.

     As we celebrate this Year of Mercy, we pray for the grace to experience the love of the Lord in ever deeper and transformative ways, through the Word of God, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, service to the poor and sick and loving those around us with tender concern. Is this the “Kairos” moment to mend a friendship, offer an apology, look at someone we often judge with new eyes, visit the lonely, give the Church another chance, open our hearts to God’s gentle presence? 

     As the world seems to fall into greater violence, fear and chaos, are we not called to bear the Light of God—Jesus Christ—to others, even as that Light has shone within our own hearts?

     I often reflect in prayer on the fact that there was no room in the inn for the Holy Family when the time came for the birth of the Son of God. In our lives of busyness, distraction, clutter and stuff, in this world of suffering, violence, conflict and despair, often it feels that there is little room for peace, justice, mercy and love, little space for God to take up residence, come in, sit and love us. Yet, unbidden and often unnoticed, Jesus shows up anyway, inviting us into that sacred space within ourselves where heart speaks to heart, calling us to share the Eucharist and the Gospel with each other, bidding us to live the dream of the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

     As 2015 recedes into history, I am deeply grateful for the blessed opportunity to serve as your bishop here in the Diocese of Gary. For me, this year of new beginnings among you has been a rich moment of prayer, encounter, welcome, joy, love and service.  In coming to know you, in sharing faith and food, in a myriad of Masses, confirmations, meetings, talks, pilgrimages, retreats, and conversations, I have been abundantly blessed by your love and goodness, which speak to my heart of the fiery and joyful mercy of the Lord Jesus. 

     To all of our faithful people, priests, religious, lay ministers, and deacons, to all of you who live the meaning and mystery of Christmas every day of the year, I offer my prayers, blessing, gratitude and heart, as we go forward boldly and joyfully into this time of mercy and our own upcoming synod, into this precious opportunity to live the saving power of Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen. 

     May all of you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas and a richly blessed 2016!


     + Donald J. Hying



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