By Becky Aubut, Anchor Staff
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — It was another first for the newly-appointed bishop of the Fall River Diocese, as Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., celebrated a Mass with students from the Catholic schools from the Attleboro deanery in the auditorium of Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro.
“I am really happy to be here with all of you this morning. This is my first time here at Bishop Feehan High School, and my first time meeting some of you. Today we come together to pray and to hear God’s Word,” began the bishop to the crowd of young faces that also included the superintendent of Catholic schools, Dr. Michael Griffin, assistant superintendent Dr. Donna Boyle, and assistant superintendent for personnel, Louise Kane, in attendance.
Speaking to the young crowd, Bishop da Cunha created a homily that helped the youth connect the Christmas season with their Catholic faith, and explained to the students that the Advent season is more than just asking Santa Claus for presents.
“As we celebrate this special time of year, this season of Advent and to celebrate the birth of Christ, I know during this time we keep ourselves busy,” said Bishop da Cunha. “As we keep ourselves busy, we try to keep ourselves connected to other people.”
One way we keep ourselves connected to each other is through the use of cell phones, the bishop continued, and that cell phones run off of a battery. If a cell phone battery dies, you need to recharge it. Computers are another way we stay connected, and those are run by being plugged into a wall. Cell phones and computers are items dependent on electricity, said the bishop, and if the power source runs out, “it doesn’t work. In some ways, we are dependent on the electricity running in the walls, and without it we would be in a very dark place.”
“Now think about this for a moment,” said Bishop da Cunha. “God is that power we need to connect to in order to have light in us. If we don’t connect to God, we are going to be in the dark, in the cold and isolated without light. Our faith is that plug that connects us to the outlet and allows God’s power to come to us and to give us the light, life, hope, strength and healing.
“In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is going to Jerusalem and on His way, He meets two blind men. They were in the dark and couldn’t see anything. They hear that Jesus is passing by, so they cried out, ‘Son of David, have pity on us.’ Now Jesus knew what they were looking for, that they wanted to see.”
When Jesus tells them, “Do you believe that I can do this; do you have enough faith in Me to bring your sight back?” said the bishop, the men answered yes. Then Jesus said, “Let it be done according to your faith.”
The men’s faith, explained Bishop da Cunha, “was the plug that connected them to the outlet that allowed the power of Jesus to be connected to them. That ‘yes’ was their faith in the Lord.
“Jesus says a lot of time in the Gospel, your faith has healed you; your faith has made you whole; your faith has brought you light; your faith has allowed the power of God to bring you healing and life. My brothers and sisters, what a wonderful gift we have all received — our faith — when we are Baptized. Our faith goes back to the coming of Jesus, Who we are celebrating now.”
Bishop da Cunha went on to tell students that they are living in a challenging time, that many individuals are trying to take Jesus out of Christmas and that the season has become more about Santa and gifts.
“They think Christmas is about Santa Claus, buying gifts and having parties, and putting out decorations and sending cards. Some people have even wanted to change the name,” he said.
Others people want to stop honoring Jesus in the holiday, said the bishop, and no longer want to wish others a “Merry Christmas” or how Christmas trees are now being called holiday trees; even the Christmas season is being distorted and becoming called a Winter Holiday.
“They want to take Jesus out of Christmas,” said Bishop da Cunha, “but for us, as Christians and Catholics, we have faith and want to believe and we want to make sure that Christmas remains all about Jesus. We have heard the saying, ‘Jesus the reason for the season.’ After 2,000 years, Jesus is still the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason why we are here today. “
Jesus is the reason for the Church, our Sacraments and why we pray, said the bishop.
As you grow older, he said to the young faces, you will understand these reasons better, adding, “Let us all do our part, that Christmas is, and always will be, about Jesus. He is, and always will be, a reason for the season.”
At Christmas, we receive God’s gift to all of us; our Father is the light guiding us every day, “and our faith is always connected to that outlet,” said Bishop da Cunha. “That outlet is Jesus, the source of our light.”