the Rio Grande Catholic Article
El Paso faithful hurry to Bethlehem
Pilgrims from many parishes take part in Mass at Christ’s birthplace
Fr. Fabian Marquez / West Texas Catholic Communities
12/7/2011 1:33:09 PM
Every year families get together to celebrate the birthdays of their loved ones, their sons and daughters, moms and dads, and even dear friends. In December we celebrate a very special birthday, the birthday of Jesus. And that special day on which we celebrate the birthday of Baby Jesus is called "Christmas."
The Gospel of Luke confirms that in the days of Caesar Augustus, Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary who betrothed to Saint Joseph. Because there was no room in the inn, Baby Jesus was born in a manger.
Not too far away, some shepherds were watching over their flock. Suddenly an angel of God stood before them. The shining angel scared the shepherds, but the angel told them not to be afraid, for he was bringing them good news of great joy for all the people. Jesus, the Messiah and Savior was born. He could be found wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
At that very moment a multitude of heavenly hosts appeared in the heavens singing, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those whom His favor rests." Filled with joy and excitement for what they had just heard and seen they said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem to see what has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” They hurried to Bethlehem and found the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph by Baby Jesus who was lying in the manger.
This past September a group of forty-two faithful parishioners on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from various churches of our diocese of El Paso, shared in the joy of the shepherds. We all hurried to Bethlehem to the Basilica of the Nativity, were in the small Chapel of Saint Ann we gathered as spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate Christmas in September at the site were Baby Jesus was born.
The pilgrimage was sponsored by the Rio Grande Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of El Paso.
As we began our celebration of the Mass we were reminded of the angels singing beautiful songs of praise to God, we also unite our voices to sing and praise God for His gift of Baby Jesus to each and every one of us. Without realizing it we were transported back in history, we became the shepherds of Jesus time and the Magi who brought gifts from the East. But instead of gold, frank incense, and myrrh we offered Baby Jesus all our faith, gratitude, and love for allowing us to experience His presence in this very holy place. There was so much joy and happiness in our Mass for Emmanuel- God among us, was more real than ever and we could feel his presence in our celebration and in each other.
The pilgrimage to the Holy Land but especially Bethlehem will forever live in the hearts and minds of the forty-two men and women from El Paso, Pecos, Presidio, and Ciudad Juarez. This pilgrimage was a reminder of the birth of Jesus. It was a reminder of how much God loves us. It was a reminder that God has reached down to us so we in turn may reach up to Him with praises and glory in thanksgiving for our salvation. A reminder that we were a, “people in darkens who have seen a great light,” That light came down from heaven to Bethlehem in the form of a baby to show us to walk as children of the light.
The light of God shines ever brighter during the Christmas season and we should give thanks to God for shining His light upon us. This Christmas we should all pray that one day all the members of our parishes of the Diocese of El Paso can become pilgrims in the Holy Land so that they too can experience the love of God and so that we can give testimony of His many blessings to all.
May God bless you today and always.
Merry Christmas to all!
More than 40 El Pasoans on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in September visited Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and saw the silver star in the Church of the Nativity, photo above left, marking the spot of his birth. Photo at left: Father Fabian Marquez of the West Texas Catholic Communities, spiritual guide for the pilgrimage, celebrates Mass in the Church of the Nativity. Photo above: Father Marquez holds up a representation of the infant Jesus in blessing the pilgrims at the end of Mass. Photo below: The pilgrims from parishes throughout the Diocese of El Paso gather outside the Church of the Nativity.
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