What the Holy Family shows us at Christmas
Christmas is for many of us, a time when families get together. We remember friends especially those who are no longer with us and those family and friends who live far away.
Sometimes this brings great joy as we catch up on news. Sometimes it's hard going and we need patience in tolerating familiar bad habits, coping with old hurts and negotiating unrealistic expectations.
Many will be glad when Christmas is over. Nevertheless, there is a deeper point to our family gathering. We instinctively recognise the importance of the bond of flesh and blood.
We know that, in a family, we irrevocably belong to each other, no matter the distances that may separate us, or the rows we have lived through. We still look to our family for recognition, acceptance and love even when that hope is unfulfilled.
So, when you see the crib this Christmas, don't see in it an image of a vanishing world of father, mother and child. See, rather, a reminder of the truth about our human nature and a source of new encouragement and determination for us all.
Extract from: The Daily Telegraph 23/12/07 by Cardinal Vincent Nichols
When the Song of the Angels is Stilled
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
Modern Day John the Baptists
The task given to St John the Baptist was to prepare the people for the appearance of Christ. Jesus had of course been born thirty years beforehand but it was only after his Baptism at the hands of John in the River Jordan that Jesus finally begins his public ministry. To avoid misunderstanding, John the Baptist explains that he is not the Messiah and goes on to tell the people, as best as he is able, just what this coming Messiah was to be like. In a way this is our task too; to explain to those around us just who the Son of God is and what he achieved in the world, and how important is the salvation he brought for us.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Charles Wesley, 1744
Alma Redemptoris Mater
Mother of Christ! Hear thou thy people's cry,
Star of the deep, and portal of the sky!
Mother of Him Who thee from nothing made,
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid;
Oh, by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
Marian Prayer for Advent