Celebrating with family

Readings for December 29, 2019

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Psalm 128:1-5
Collossians 3:12-21
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

The Feast of the Holy Family

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

The holidays are meant to be a joyful, celebratory time for gathering around family and friends. But sometimes for this very reason, many suffer through rather than celebrate during the Christmas season. The stress of the expectations and traditions that accompany our earthly celebration of the incarnation of Christ, the strain of troubled relationships, or the reminder of lost loved ones who should be with us, often extricate joy from family gatherings, leaving only an obligatory participation rather than “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” And for this reason, I know that some give up the fight before it starts and avoid such gatherings altogether. 

And on your behalf, and for all who suffer, avoid, or painfully endure, I pray that you may be consoled and your relationships mended. I earnestly pray that the “peace of Christ control your hearts” so to fulfill the call to be one body in Christ, and so that we may shine the glory of God most brightly.

The birth of Christ is intentionally celebrated at the darkest time of the year. The Light of Christ shines brightly as a reminder not to lose faith even in the face of cold, darkness, or the resulting isolation. In this season, we can look to the Holy Family as our example of enduring the suffering of the world. This wholly and uniquely blessed family did not have an easy start. A marital crisis, a long journey from home, a birth in a place where animals fed, a perilous warning followed by a trip to a neighboring country and, finally, a re-settlement in a new town. And still they peacefully and hopefully trusted in their God. And still they loved. 

So, as I pray to Christ for peace for myself and for all others, I can find solace in his knowledge and familiarity with human suffering. And I can find strength in knowing that still he hopes and trusts in me to choose to act with faith and courage. And that still he loves. And so, too, shall I. 

Lord Jesus, be with all families this day and forever. Grant us Your peace and harmony, an end to conflict and division. Gift us with the compassion to better understand each other, wisdom and love to assist each other, and trust and patience to live peacefully with each other. Grant that through the intercession of your mother, Mary, and St. Joseph, all our families may become holy families, accepting each other, working together in unity, selflessly dedicated to one another in your name. Amen

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