May I wish you and your families the peace and joy that the birth of Jesus brings to our world. A new family is created at Christmas, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And as we gather as family over the Christmas period, the Holy Family inspires us to make real the values presented to us at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin this year.
The Holy Family, like every family, had its own share of problems and difficulties. For example, imagine how misunderstood both Mary and Joseph must have been about the conception of Jesus before they came to live together and the great anxiety they endured when the time came for Mary to give birth. There was no room in Bethlehem and Jesus was born in a stable for animals. There never was a time when the family was free of stress nor without the strength to meet it. And so it is today, but with new stresses and strains. Still, all agree that the family is the most important community in our world.
The priest-poet John O’Donohue writes: Like the tree that puts roots deep into the clay, each of us needs the anchor of belonging to bend with the storms and continue towards the light. The anchor of belonging is provided for us by our close relationships in our families, where we are accepted and loved just as we are.
Whatever our family situation, one thing is known: successful family life doesn’t just happen, but involves a commitment from each family member to live virtues like kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, forgiveness and love. Living these virtues facilitates happiness and peace in family life.
Family members spending time together, sharing their experiences and listening to each other, create opportunities for deepening their love and respect for each other. This is a challenge for us today because we are so busy working, socialising, on our iPads and androids, or watching TV, that we have less time to spend with each other. May the spirit of Christmas inspire us to be an attentive presence to each other in our homes.
This Christmas, let me thank you, our supporters, for your assistance in our missionary work and wish you a joyful celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ. Let us join with Pope Francis in asking God to help all families experience the great love that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had in the Holy Family.
Fr Victor Dunne