Cardinal Wuerl blesses the crèche during a Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. (Cs photo by Leslie Kossoff)
Cardinal Wuerl blesses the crèche during a Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. (Cs photo by Leslie Kossoff)

The Gospel message is for everyone, and that gives us hope for building a better world, Cardinal Donald Wuerl said Dec. 23 as he shared his Christmas message during several interviews with Washington-area media.

On Christmas Eve, the cardinal blessed the crèche and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and also celebrated the noon Mass on Christmas Day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In homilies at both Masses, Cardinal Wuerl talked about the manger as symbol of hope and the majesty of God’s love, manifested in a tiny child. The cardinal said that the recently concluded Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church offers a reminder of God’s merciful, forgiving and compassionate love.

God’s love is the answer in a world torn by violence, anger, discrimination and injustice, Cardinal Wuerl continued. “Today, we look at the manger, we listen to the Gospel, we celebrate the Eucharist, we exchange a sign of peace, all in the hope that it is possible to envision and create a better world,” he said.

In his Christmas Eve homily, the cardinal said there is nothing without hope for a better future, and recounted reading the story of a priest whose church was destroyed in Iraq, but who continued encouraging Christians to forgive and look forward. The Christmas nativity scene reminds Christians to not let bad things change them or empty them of hope, Cardinal Wuerl said.

At the Christmas Day Mass at the basilica, the cardinal referenced the construction of the Trinity Dome and spoke of how it was a parable of how faith and God’s grace work. One only needs to look up and see signs of a work in progress, said the cardinal, but the final completion is still hidden from sight. Just as we won’t see the work on the dome until it is complete, we won’t see the completion of God’s work in us until the glory comes, and the kingdom is revealed, the cardinal said.

“As we look into that nativity scene today, let us not only reaffirm our own faith that this is God with us and renew our conviction that we can stand in that truth, we can bring fresh hope: to ourselves, to our families, to our community, to our world,” the cardinal said.

He concluded his homily praying that all will come to know God’s love, and that the disciples of the Church will glorify and praise God for all they have seen and heard. Like the angels in the manger scene, “our message must be glory to God in highest and on earth, peace – the peace that Jesus gives us, first in our hearts then through our actions in the world.”

After the Christmas Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the cardinal stopped in to visit the guests who were in attendance at the shrine’s 40th annual Christmas dinner. Volunteers served a free Christmas meal to those who are alone or are in need and delivered additional meals to families throughout the region; this year, more than 2,000 people were served meals on Christmas Day.

On Dec. 21, Cardinal Wuerl greeted guests at Catholic Charities’ annual Christmas dinner for the homeless, where 400 men, women and children were served. The guests received a gift card to purchase shoes, and a new backpack filled with gloves and personal hygiene items.