REFLECTIONS extracts from Thoughts for Christmas week

December 25th.  Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus. Praising God and singing for joy with the angels is what we can and should be doing on this day in a special way.  But this cannot and should not be done alone.  Christmas joy is relational, ideally with those near and dear to us, and beyond that, as evangelisers even on this day we can “Put Christ back into Christmas” and show that “Every Family Matters” by inviting others to share our joy at the Good News of God’s love.  “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill because today a Saviour has been born to us, he is Christ the Lord. Luke 1:14.   Pope Francis:  We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.  It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace.  Our salvation depends on it.  THE FACE OF MERCY 2.

26th December. Day of Goodwill, St Stephen   The old Boxing Day, has become Day of Goodwill in South Africa.  We also commemorate  St Stephen, the first Christian martyred at the hands of the Jews who felt threatened by the passion and commitment of these early Christians.  Goodwill may not have the degree of passion that makes one willing to suffer death for a cause but is a necessary and valuable attribute of family life. The family is the place where we learn about generosity, hospitality and the particular quality of ubuntu.  Better a dish of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Proverbs15:17 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1.  Pope Francis.  It is my burning desire that Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.  The poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.  From MV15.    Reflect and share.  Why not rate yourself and your family on your degree of goodwill.

December 27th.  John evangelist.  KWANZAA  comes from a Swahili word meaning first fruits. It is a newish African-American celebration that tries to link African tradition with western Christianity. It is a 7 day long celebration from December 27 to Jan 3.   Seven candles for each of 7 principles of life are used.  They include unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics (sharing), purpose, creativity and faith.  These are helpful principles for anyone to share.  Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise think about these things.  Philippians 4:8  Pope Francis:  We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside me one another.  This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims and put aside all suspicion or mistrust. What we are all seeking is the radiant peace of God’s face. EG 244.   Reflect and share.   How much can we learn from the religion in other parts of Africa?   Share any experiences you have had.

December 28th. Holy Innocents.  Matthew’s gospel tells the story of the three foreign Wise Men bringing gifts. It also tells how King Herod out of jealousy and fear about a possible new king of the Jews ordered the murder of all baby boys in Bethlehem.  Joseph was warned in a dream to take Mary and baby Jesus and escape into exile.   Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old or under. Matthew 2:  The second task of the family as the domestic church is to serve life from conception until natural death.”  John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio.  Reflect and Share.  There are many lessons to be learned here. We are outraged daily at news reports of the injustice in killing innocent children. However, should we not feel greater outrage at the killing of so many unborn babies through abortion all over the world?  At the same time should we not also feel concern for the situations that lead to such a drastic choice?   The task of families is to serve life in the widest sense.  Would that not also include drinking and driving and destroying our health through substance abuse?  How genuinely lifegiving are we being, starting at home?

December 29th.   Holy Family Sunday. This special day on the 1st Sunday after Christmas, that commemorates the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, calls every human family to be a holy family.  What does that mean? Holy means being whole, complete, as good as can be, living with awareness of God and God’s love and mercy. It means, like the Holy Family, living in God’s presence in our family and home and sharing that with our immediate and extended family too.  Find a way to do so especially to those you did not see on Christmas Day.  A special blessing can be given to families on this day or at another suitable time as many families will be spending these days away. Hear my son your father’s instruction and reject not your mother’s teaching. Proverbs 1:8

BLESSING:  May the Lord bless our home and all who live here.  May our home be always filled with the presence of God, in the love, peace and joy shared amongst us. When there is conflict make us willing to be reconciled. May we always care for one another as a true family of God. We ask this in the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

We pray with Pope Francis, “Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division; may all who have been hurt or scandalised find ready comfort and healing. Make us once more mindful of the sacredness of the family and its beauty in God’s plan.   Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.  Amen.  AL 325.

 December 30th.  Ancestors for today.  A beautiful image we have been given for the Church in Africa is the Church as God’s Family. We are also taught that a family is a little church of the home where God is present in the family’s history, our traditions and the events of our daily lives.  We can consider who our role models are that can continue to inspire us to love one another as God loves us? They may be from our own family in the past or even the present. They may be other families or recognised saints and martyrs even of today.  “May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children!” Ps 128:5-6.   Pope Francis. The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society.  AL193. Reflect and Share.  “Every Family Matters” has been our overall theme for this year.  We ask ourselves, “Do I and my family feel valued in the Church?” “Do I show concern and go out of my way to show other families they are valued? Spend some time together reflecting and sharing in preparation for the New Year which is just around the corner.

December 31st.  New Year’s Eve.    There are many millions of followers of Jesus Christ in the world today belonging to thousands of different churches with new churches starting almost every day.    We can ask, “Why is there no unity amongst Christians?” Is it right for so many break-away churches all claiming to follow Jesus Christ?”   Unity amongst the followers of Jesus is a dream to work for.  Unity within a church, within a parish, within groups in a parish and in our own families is a dream too.   The words of a popular human are a call to us all.   “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” The glory which you have given me I have given t them, that they may be one, even as we are one.  I in them and you in me, may they become perfectly one so that the world my know that you have sent me. “John 17:22-23.  Pope Francis: The spirituality of family love is made up of 1000s of small but real gestures.  In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion God has his dwelling place. AL315.

As we go marching into a New year may we live and proclaim the Good News, the Gospel of the Family, that FAMILY DOES MATTER! With our 2020 theme OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.   

 

 

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