“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” (Colossians 3:12)
The celebrations that surround Christmas have been wonderful—liturgies, caroling, being with family and friends. But I still have to ask myself: What exactly changed? Am I a better person now? Has the Christ Child shown me something I didn’t know before?
Today on the feast of the Holy Family we have a lot to contemplate about the role love plays within our families—and the role it plays beyond. We are called to witness God’s love in many spaces: communities, towns, our nation and the world. A single act of courage or kindness is never wasted. Neither is a single act of forgiveness. They can change someone’s life forever—including lives we may never know personally. The circle of love widens at each turn because that’s how love works. That’s how God works.
Lessons of love start within our families. When Mary gave birth to the Christ Child, we saw the model of a loving family. Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus completely even as events clouded their future together. Soon after the arrival of the Magi, they fled home, traveling to Egypt to protect their infant son from imminent danger. Mary and Joseph did everything they could to remain an intact family during and after their exile.
The ripple effect of their love is the central theme of every Gospel story we read about today—and Christmas is where it all began. God’s love is inevitable. It strengthens and grows each time we become Christ-like, too, in our families, in our communities, in our world.
Friend, to answer my own question: What has changed for me is the belief that Christmas is not just a celebration; it’s an obligation to nurture loving relationships in honor of the Holy Family. It’s an obligation to share God’s love at every turn within our nuclear families and beyond—even when things seem risky. With prayer, I know you and I will be up for the task. And with that… No more questions for 2020.
May God bless you throughout the New Year with happiness and good health.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 4th Sunday
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
show us the way to become a Holy family
where even in times of uncertainty
danger and difficulties we learn
to live by faith in Emanuel: God-With-Us.
Teach us how to be living temples
where the Spirit of God dwells
and strengthens the bond of love
between us and our family.
Draw us closer to one another
by drawing us closer to You.
Above all may we too be blest
by relying on Your mercy and grace
even when the road is uncertain
and the way forward unclear.
Consecrate my family to Your will
and abide with us now and forever.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso