Dear Followers of Christ,
Today we celebrate The Holy Family. Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 we celebrate Mary, the Mother of God and the beginning of a New Year in our society. This week is about endings and beginnings.
However, the Christmas season extends far beyond December 25. For most people, we have moved beyond the silent night of Christmas gifts and family gatherings. We quickly have moved to our own corner again focusing on our cell phones, football games and return policies for sweaters that do not fit. For most people, Christmas has past us again. However, I want you to think about who we are, what we have celebrated and how we can become people of hope in our world.
Our Church struggles to maintain hope. In this Christmas season we come to the fulfillment of God’s revelation in our world not only in the past as a tiny baby, but now. Today is immersed in love. Today is the revelation of mercy and forgiveness. Today is the gift God gives us that cannot be returned for one that suits our size or perspective. Today is the Word of Love manifest in our actions, thoughts and energy.
We are the family of God because we are born again in baptism. This is the miracle of our second birth. We are the Holy Family! We belong to God when we invite people to be better by our words of encouragement and our works of justice.
Christmas is only a source of hope if we are willing to put our lives on the line for God and for others. Perhaps we can commit again to a life of prayer so to be used by God for the good. Perhaps we can commit our lives this year to be a better family, not only our blood relatives, but to work more diligently for our brothers and sisters coming into our country or people ravaged by war or our next door neighbors addicted to meth or cocaine or our neighbors who have just lost a job and are in need of food and clean clothing for their children or a neighbor who is growing more distant from dementia.
We cannot let the miracles of Christmas be found only in a TV movie or a Hallmark card. We are the family of God and we need to keep that awareness alive throughout the year. The miracle of Christmas becomes a deep promise of change, conversion and mercy for our own lives as we learn how to love other people.
As Christians, we still speak evil about other people. We still hold grudges and condemn many groups of people we do not understand. We are still divided by gender, race and denominations. We still have work to do as we let go of one calendar year and step into another. I invite you to take stock of your lives this day and let go of the bitterness that infests your hearts. I encourage you to find the solace of God and the rich life of being hope to other people.
Blessings in the New Year,