And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea,
to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, …
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
- Luke 2: 4-7
Dear Members of the University Community,
This is the time of year when Christians celebrate the miraculous event of the birth of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary. The Gospels tell the familiar narrative of Joseph caring for his pregnant wife, of Mary giving birth to the Son of God, and of the shepherds journeying to the manger to pay homage to the newborn King.
We see in this image of a brave mother, a humble father and a helpless infant the images and life stories of people all around us. It is in the humanity of neighbors known and unknown where we can discover the face of God who sent Jesus to redeem the world. During this Christmas season we reflect on God’s great love for us and see it manifested in the lives of our own holy families and the holy family of all humanity.
Celebrated at this time also is the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, which will take place December 9-16. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews of Judah triumphed over their oppressors. For Jewish people around the world, these days recall the light of justice and peace that will triumph over the darkness of conflict and injustice.
In many faith traditions, light symbolizes the best of who we are and hope for blessings to come. This holiday season I pray that with your family and friends you experience the peace, joyful living and unconditional love that God wishes for all of us. May this also be a time for us to see the face of God in those who suffer illness, injustice, and economic insecurity, and to respond as members of the same family. At Christmas Mass, I shall remember the Santa Clara community, thanking God for all of you and asking God’s blessing now and throughout the new year.
With best wishes,
Michael E. Engh, S.J.