All flesh shall see it together

Bishop Bonnar stands at a podium with a wreath on it.

With the Church throughout the world, we begin the Holy Season of Advent. We behold the words of the prophet Isaiah, “A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain made low; The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

These sacred words point not only to a voice announcing the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, but they also, in true prophetic fashion, contain a glorious vision of justice and peace benefiting “all flesh,” therein meaning everyone—without exclusion. Justice is the reality of making relationships right, and peace is the communion that flows therein. To embrace the Advent season is to heed the words of the prophet and intentionally seek this vision of justice and peace for all. 

We live in a time that lacks peace. Discord and brokenness persist in our world, nation, Church and homes. Much of this fracture is rooted in ideologies, prejudices and deep-seated differences that short-circuit the Christian way of love and preclude any possibility of accompaniment and dialogue. 

No doubt one of the issues that has fostered disunity throughout the world is immigration. Every year during the unveiling of our Annual Diocesan Appeal: One in Hope, One in Mission, which provides funds for Catholic Charities and ministries in the diocese, this scourge rears its ugly head. 

Each year, we receive calls and mail from a handful of people who limit their understanding of helping the poor to include only those they deem worthy of mercy and compassion, thus disregarding Christ’s command to care for all our brothers and sisters in need. And while all funds generated by the Annual Appeal remain within the six counties of the diocese, our heartfelt compassion must extend from those who live in our communities to migrants seeking safety and the promise of a better life in our country. There are great blessings that come when we accompany the poor! “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17).

The issue of immigration is complicated indeed. We do need to keep our borders safe, but this does not mean that we close our doors and our hearts to the stranger or ignore the Gospel. Many of our ancestors came to this foreign land poor and in need of assistance. And people responded. When we look at this issue through the lens of the Gospel, it becomes simpler. We are all brothers and sisters of the one God in need of redemption. Even though, out of fear, some nations have borders with walls, the Gospel has no limits. We are to love one another as Jesus loves us, especially those on the peripheries. We will never know peace in this world until we fully welcome Jesus into our hearts and love as he loves. 

As we prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas, we need to recall that he was the first migrant who immigrated into this world as the Father’s only begotten Son, so that we can have the promise of the world to come and citizenship in heaven. Jesus’ coming is not just for Americans or Catholics, but for all God’s people. His love and presence cannot be limited by a wall or fence, nor are they meant just for the rich. Jesus expects us to embody this love in our minds and hearts. 

In September I attended the Mission Bishops’ Conference sponsored by Catholic Extension in Chicago. The theme of the conference was Franciscan: “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.” What a beautiful theme this can be for our Advent season as we seek to make our relationship with Christ and one another right.

One of the presenters at the conference, Father Daniel Groody, CSC, mentioned that as a child he found a pamphlet that said, “You can miss heaven by 18 inches.” Eighteen inches is the distance between the head and the heart. Let’s not allow thoughts of hate and prejudice to pollute the love in our hearts. Jesus is counting on each one of us to be channels of His peace, champions of His justice and purveyors of His mercy to all we encounter in this fragile and sacred life.


Con la Iglesia en todo el mundo, comenzamos el Tiempo Santo de Adviento. Contemplamos las palabras del profeta Isaías: “Una voz proclama: ¡Preparen en el desierto el camino del Señor,
tracen en la estepa un sendero para nuestro Dios! ¡Que se rellenen todos los valles y se aplanen todas las montañas y colinas; que las quebradas se conviertan en llanuras y los terrenos escarpados, en planicies! Entonces se revelará la gloria del Señor y todos los hombres la verán juntamente, porque ha hablado la boca del Señor.” (Isaías 40,3-5)

Estas palabras sagradas no solamente apuntan a la voz anunciando la llegada del tan esperado Mesías, sino que también, de manera verdaderamente profética, contienen una visión gloriosa de justicia y paz que beneficia a “toda carne”, es decir, a todos, sin exclusión. La justicia es la realidad de hacer que las relaciones sean correctas y la paz es la comunión que fluye en ellas. Abrazar el tiempo de Adviento es prestar atención a las palabras del profeta y buscar intencionalmente esta visión de justicia y paz para todos. 

Vivimos en una época donde hace falta la paz. La discordia y el quebrantamiento persisten en nuestro mundo, nación, Iglesia y hogares. Mucha de esta fractura se origina en ideologías, prejuicios y diferencias profundamente arraigadas que producen un cortocircuito en la manera cristiana de amar e impiden cualquier posibilidad de acompañamiento y diálogo. 

Sin duda, una de las cuestiones que ha fomentado la desunión en todo el mundo es la inmigración. Cada año, durante la presentación de nuestra Campaña Diocesana Anual: Uno en la Esperanza, Uno en la Misión, que proporciona fondos para Caridades Católicas y ministerios en la diócesis, este flagelo asoma su fea cabeza.

 Cada año, recibimos llamadas y correos de un puñado de personas que limitan su comprensión de ayudar a los pobres para incluir sólo a aquellos que consideran dignos de misericordia y compasión, ignorando así el mandato de Cristo de cuidar de todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas necesitados. Y si bien todos los fondos generados por la Campaña Anual permanecen dentro de los seis condados de la diócesis, nuestra más sincera compasión debe extenderse desde aquellos que viven en nuestras comunidades hasta los migrantes que buscan seguridad y la promesa de una vida mejor en nuestro país. ¡Hay grandes bendiciones que vienen cuando acompañamos a los pobres!  “El que se apiada del pobre presta al Señor, y él le devolverá el bien que hizo.” (Proverbios 19,17)

La cuestión de la inmigración es realmente complicada. Necesitamos mantener nuestras fronteras seguras, pero esto no significa que cerremos nuestras puertas y nuestros corazones al extraño o ignoremos el Evangelio. Muchos de nuestros antepasados llegaron a esta tierra extranjera pobres y necesitados de ayuda. Y la gente respondió. Cuando miramos este tema a través del lente del Evangelio, se vuelve más simple. Todos somos hermanos y hermanas del único Dios necesitado de redención. Aunque por miedo algunas naciones tienen fronteras con muros, el Evangelio no tiene límites. Debemos amarnos unos a otros como Jesús nos ama, especialmente a los de las periferias. Nunca conoceremos la paz en este mundo hasta que recibamos plenamente a Jesús en nuestros corazones y amemos como él ama.

Mientras nos preparamos para celebrar la venida de Jesús en Navidad, necesitamos recordar que él fue el primer migrante que emigró a este mundo como el Hijo unigénito del Padre, para que podamos tener la promesa del mundo venidero y la ciudadanía en el cielo. La venida de Jesús no es sólo para los estadounidenses o los católicos, sino para todo el pueblo de Dios. Su amor y presencia no pueden limitarse por un muro o una valla, ni están destinados sólo a los ricos. Jesús espera que encarnemos este amor en nuestras mentes y corazones.

En septiembre asistí a la Conferencia Misionera de los Obispos patrocinada por la Sociedad de Extensión Católica en Chicago, Illinois. El tema de la conferencia fue Franciscano: “Hazme un canal de tu paz”. Qué hermoso tema puede ser este para nuestra temporada de Adviento mientras buscamos hacer que nuestra relación con Cristo y con los demás sea correcta.

 Uno de los presentadores en la conferencia, el Padre Daniel Goody, CSC, mencionó que cuando era niño él encontró un panfleto que decía, “Puedes perderte el Cielo por 8 pulgadas.” Dieciocho pulgadas es la distancia entre la cabeza y el corazón. No permitamos que pensamientos de odio y prejucio contaminen el amor en nuestros corazones. Jesús está contando con cada uno de nosotros para ser canales de Su paz, campeones de Su justicia y proveedores de Su misericordia para todos los que encontramos en esta vida frágil y sagrada.

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Bishop David J. Bonnar

Bishop David J. Bonnar

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Most Reverend David J. Bonnar was installed as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on January 12, 2021. He received a bachelor degree in Social Communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome receiving a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1987 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. As a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Bonnar served as parochial vicar at Saint Vitus Parish, New Castle; Saint Rosalia Parish, Greenfield; and Saint Thomas More Parish, Bethel Park. He served as chaplain at Central Catholic High School and as Director of Vocations, Director of the Pre-Ordination program, Director of the Permanent Diaconate program and Rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. In 2009, Bishop Bonnar was appointed pastor of Saint Bernard Parish, Mt. Lebanon and from 2018 also served as administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Scott Township. In 2020, he was named pastor of Saint Aidan Parish, Wexford. On November 17, 2020, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him the sixth Bishop of Youngstown. In addition to his ministerial assignments, Bishop Bonnar has also served on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Post-Ordination Board, Clergy Personnel Board, Seminary Admissions Board, Chair of the Permanent Diaconate Admissions Board, Chair of the Priestly Formation Board, and Chair of the Priesthood Candidate Admission Board. Since 2014, Bishop Bonnar has been the editor of The Priest magazine and in 2020 was appointed a member of the National Advisory Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For 12 years Bishop Bonnar was also chaplain to the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team.
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