Thanking God for the blessing of family
Christmas is meant to be a great family occasion. This is because at Christmas (as with the Feast of the Holy Family a few days later) we recall the example of the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. That family is a model for all our families which should be characterised by loving parents and obedient children.
Usually, during the weeks leading up to Christmas, family members look forward to being reunited for at least a few days – Christmas is often the only time during the year when they are all together – as they celebrate the festivities, exchange gifts and reminisce about the past.
Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus and his becoming part of a human family. Thus it is appropriate that we reflect on the blessing of belonging to a family and on the quality of our family lives.
As the People of God (one of the principal images of the Church presented in the documents of the Second Vatican Council) we are members of God’s family here on earth. That is why, especially at Christmas, we rejoice in remembering that the Saviour of the world has been born. We recognise that God is indeed part of the struggles and joys of our various family relationships and activities, whether in the wider spiritual family of the Church or in our own particular human families.
In his first letter, Saint John offers much encouragement about living together in peace and harmony. There he writes: “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.” It is important that we know that we are God’s children. Sometimes we forget this basic truth about ourselves, especially when we are troubled and confused.
If we could focus properly on that basic truth, then we would automatically turn to God in the same way that we would turn towards our human parents for help and support in difficult situations. It is, after all, in interacting with other human beings, within and outside our families, that we begin to know other people and develop meaningful relationships with them. It is the same in the spiritual realm. If we spend time with our family members and if we spend time in prayer, we will grow closer, respectively, to them and to God.