DECEMBER reflections as part of the PUT CHRIST BACK INTO CHRISTMAS campaign in which MARFAM is collaborating with the Knights of Da Gama contain a story of a BIBLE FAMILY for most of the days of the month while some other feasts are also included. Ancestors play an important role in the lives of African people and the history of the ancestors of Jesus can be a fun family activity and a great Advent-Christmas spiritual journey.
The Catholic Order of the Knights of Da Gama, started a campaign in the 1950s to promote the message “Put Christ back into Christmas” because they could see that Christmas was becoming too commercialised. For many years this consisted mainly of selling Christmas cards while other activities were also added. Life is even more commercialised today. Cards are still available and the message is as important as ever even though most people hardly send cards any more and rather send emails or skype greetings to their loved ones.
Salvation history led up to the birth of Jesus. Telling the Bible stories of his ancestors, family sharing and praying together, and also showing care for others is a powerful way to keep the message alive. We can add a short thank you prayer each day.
PRAYER: Dear Father God, thank you for showing us the way of merciful love through the life of Jesus your Son. May we put Christ back into Christmas every day in every way as we spread your love to those who share our lives.
Setting the scene. There are different traditions and activities that can help put Christ back into Christmas in our homes as well as in parishes. An Advent wreath reminds us of eternal love as week by week an extra candle is lit.. Shelter seeking brings to mind travellers and the homeless. Story telling, singing and baking and making are done at home. A Jesse tree tells about the ancestors of Jesus. Their stories are read and shared from the Bible and symbols for these families can then be hung on a tree during the weeks of Advent. Later this can be decorated more and become the family Christmas tree. Jesse was the father of King David, the most famous of Jesus’ ancestors.
8th December. Immaculate Conception. We Catholics believe that everyone of us inherits in some way the sinfulness of the whole human race portrayed in the early books of Genesis. We call it original sin. Baptism in faith cleanses us from this sin and restores us to perfect friendship as children of God. But sin, injustice and selfishness remain in our lives and we constantly need to be renewed in our friendship with God. The Church teaches us that right from her conception Mary was not touched by sin because she was to become the human mother of Jesus, the Son of God. As someone who inspires us and intercedes for us we pray to her: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Pope Francis: Mary is the woman of faith who lives and advances in faith and her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represent a constant point of reference for the Church. EG 287. For reflections and sharing. What is our family relationship with Mary, even if not all members are Catholic?
9th December. Joseph. The story of Joseph tells how the Israelites came to be in Egypt. Being Jacob’s favourite and spoiled son, having been given his famous coat of many colours, he also had a gift for interpreting dreams. Because they were jealous his brothers schemed to kill him, but they eventually just threw him into a pit, from where he was rescued by passing travellers and taken to Egypt. He prospered there, although he did end up in jail for a time falsely accused of rape. It was interpreting of dreams that attracted Pharaoh’s attention and because of his skills he became Pharaoh’s right hand man. At a time of a famine in Israel the brothers came to Egypt for help. They did not recognise Joseph but he recognised them. After testing them he expressed his forgiveness for how they had treated him. Read Genesis 37-45. Pope Francis: children need help in the process of inner healing and in this way grow in the ability to understand and live in peace with others.
Points for reflection and discussion. From being a spoilt child Joseph’s good qualities of leadership emerged. A central message is Joseph’s willingness to forgive. Would one expect such things from spoilt children? Belief in and interpretation of dreams is still an area of confusion today.