In his Christmas message, Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of the Catholic Diocese of the Altoona-Johnstown talks about the experience of a man who can't get into his mother-in-law's apartment building because he forgot the key.
The mother-in-law also did not respond to the intercom, perhaps because she is hard of hearing, said Bartchak who told the story to the media Monday at his Hollidaysburg home.
Bartchak, who had a key because his mother lives in the same building, offered to help the man who had several packages to deliver.
In much the same way, Bartchak said those who hold the key or know that the Word of God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ need to share the message with those who are afraid, distressed, confused, lost, frustrated or just disconnected.
Those who hold the key need to look around their neighborhood, family or workplace, he said. Everyone knows people who are on the fringe, who are overlooked or forgotten. He suggested praying for them or with them.
"Make a connection," he said. "The key is that simple."
He called the door that needs to be encountered "the door of faith" quoting from Pope Benedict XVI's message on the Year of Faith: "The door of faith is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his church."
"Jesus Christ is the door of faith for us," he said.
Just as the son-in-law had packages for his mother-in-law, Jesus is "the guest who stands at the threshold of our hearts with a deep desire to enter; to be welcomed by us because he comes bearing many gifts," most important is to share in his divine life, Bartchak said.
When the man got to his mother-in-law's apartment, she was overjoyed to see him and welcomed him inside.
"Christmas is all about a personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ" whose birth is being celebrated, Bartchak said.
He noted that when the shepherds and the wise men visited the infant Jesus, they were changed by their experience, and they began a new lifelong journey of faith.
He invited people to come to church at Christmas to meet Christ for the first time or to get acquainted again. He urged those who are on the journey to pay attention to those who are hard of hearing, have lost the key or disconnected in some way.
He said the door of faith is always open and for those who have entered it, Christmas is a time of joy.