Merry Christmas to all of you! There is nothing so moving as contemplating the great mysteries of the Christ child and the sacrifices of the Holy Family.
Marriage and families these days have come under fire from many sources. We see this in families who are overcome by violence and poverty in too many places throughout the world. We see this in families who are broken apart due to addictions. We see this in the influence of our secular culture, which emphasizes presents over presence.
The Holy Family was under fire as well, with a political census being taken and a threatened ruler, Herod, who was afraid of the reports of a newborn king. The Holy Family was not exempt from the political and economic threats of their day. They even had to leave their own country to evade these threats and became refugees in Egypt.
Yet, the message of the Christmas story is not one of despair, but one of hope. It’s the story of our God, who breaks into the chaos of the world, and offers his unconditional presence to us. And just as God offered that presence in Jesus to the world 2,000 years ago, he continues to offer that presence to each of us every day.
So, parents and grandparents, I encourage you to put up a crib scene in your home, to tell the story of the birth of Jesus with your children. Pray as a family before the crib scene and come to church on Sundays and especially on the feast of Christmas.
Remind your loved ones that Jesus is our Lord, friend and Savior, and that no matter the stressors in your family life, God desires to be present with you. This Christmas, give that presence to your children and grandchildren by sharing with them the gift of faith.
Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter, @BpDavidRicken.