Christmas Message From Father Steven

Dear Beloved in Christ,

What a gift it is to unite together in humble, grateful adoration of our Savior’s birth. To you and all of your families I wish a very blessed and peaceful Christmas and safe travels to and from all your gatherings. 

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent the first 30 years of his short life hidden away in a small, no-name town like Nazareth? Why did Jesus wait so long before beginning His public ministry of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation?  The misery of fallen humanity was everywhere to be seen, the world was groaning and yearning for a Savior. And yet, He waited, living the simple, daily rhythm of family life with Mary, Joseph, and their neighbors.

Though He was the Son of God, He hid His divinity so completely, that nothing extraordinary stood out among those who watched Him grow from infancy to adulthood.  When His wisdom and divine power were finally revealed during the three short years of His public ministry, His relatives and neighbors were amazed and completely surprised: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is He not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother Mary? . . . Where then did He get all this?” (Mt 13:55)?

Within the Church’s contemplation of this mystery, one reason put forth as to why Jesus lived thirty of His thirty three years under the roof of Mary and Joseph was to show that family life, and all that makes up the family, is not in any way inconsistent with the call to holiness. In celebrating the birth of Christ, we celebrate His birth into a family, the family we traditionally call “the holy family.” By His whole hearted embrace of family life, Jesus reveals God’s tremendous love for the family, your family and mine. As the birth of Christ announces the world’s rebirth—its recreation through mercy—His birth also announces the redemption and renewal of the family.

The need for redemption is felt by everyone. We all experience the brokenness of our fallen humanity—how we can hurt those we love and bring pain rather than blessing.  While we fumble along with our good intentions, selfish, sinful tendencies often get the upper hand. But this is precisely the blessing of Christmas, which celebrates the good news of Christ’s coming into the world to redeem and heal all that threatens or harms God’s plan for marriage and family life. 

Like Mary and Joseph, family life is the first environment where discipleship with Christ is lived out. It is in and through family life that holiness for each member is forged, expressed, and lived out. As we look closely at the holy family, their example reveals that at the very heart of the family is a life of deep communion with Christ, which continually overflows into communion with one another in all the simple, daily acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and sacrifice.

As we all renew our welcome and love for the Christ-child this Christmas, let us bring Him once again, not only into the center of our hearts, but also into the center of our homes, our family. As the infant Jesus smiles with immense love upon you and all whom you hold dear, as He renews His infant blessings upon you and your family, may you be encouraged to take up, once again, the call to holiness, to make holy the ordinary day-to-day stuff of family life, by doing it with a love that is more generous and thoughtful, more other-centered, more patient and kind, more joyful and forgiving. And through this more Christ-like love, we give to each other the greatest gift of Christmas: Jesus Christ. 

God love you,
Fr. Steven

 

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