Over the years, even long before beginning in family ministry, when our children were still young I started writing Christmas stories. Sometimes they were retelling in simple ways the accounts from Matthew and Luke. Sometimes Joseph and Mary and the baby were the characters in the stories, sometimes angels featured and sometimes the stories were set in different parts of the country or even the world. Often they reflect current or historical realities faced by families not unlike the hardships the Holy Family experienced 2000 years ago as there lives were threatened and they went into exile.
The story published on 24th December on https://www.marfam.org.za/no-room-a-family-christmas-story-christmas-eve-december-24/ about Josua, the street kid, the shelter and Father Christmas is set in Johannesburg. Another South African story was based on fact. In a village called Shoboshobane, in rural South Africa, where only about 20 years ago a village was attacked and destroyed and the villagers massacred on Christmas Day by a rival political group. Some fled with their infants into the tall ripened mealie fields to avoid a “killing of the holy innocents.” A favourite South African carol “O Nkosi Jesu,” tenderly pictures an African mother, like Mary, and her baby’s gentle quiet breathing as he rests on her breast.
Pope Francis in his letter Admirabile Signum, (A wonderful sign) written from Greccio in Italy on the 1st Sunday of Advent told of the miraculous vision of baby Jesus when St Francis had gathered some of his simple parishioners together there on Christmas eve. This incident is believed to have started the Christmas crib tradition. The Holy Father invited every family to make a Christmas crib at home and reflect on the elements of the Christmas story especially the baby, the innocence, vulnerability and the tenderness of the parents, and the wonder and joy of the visitors, while also noting the less than ideal reality of the event.
On the one hand babies do invoke such feelings in us, love, joy and protectiveness. On the other hand there are so many unwanted babies, unloved children, babies and children of all ages suffering from war, abuse and violence. They can and should be cherished, protected and loved, if the traumatic circumstances in the lives of their mothers, and fathers too, would make that possible. Christmas can and should be a time of selfless caring especially for the weak and vulnerable, the poor, marginalised, lost and lonely.
On reflecting on the Pope’s writings also in Laudato Si, and the life and writings of his role model St Francis on creation I chose the theme OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES for 2020 Christmas card
MARFAM’s 2020 programme and Family Year Palnner. I’ve just added the slogan “We’re going green!”. Family is a way of being, a way that God used in his acts of creation. Like the Trinity, a community of love, family is about relationships and this is expressed and experienced in families of creation like animal families too.
Pope Francis constantly speaks of joy. Here is a short story on the topic of joy.
“In the waiting room at the adoption agency pairs of prospective parents eyed each other with some suspicion, but that was tinged with compassion. Inside the office a thirty-something couple were being cross-questioned. “Why, how, who, when?” “We promise………… “
The social worker next door was interviewing a pregnant teenager. Frightened, bewildered, her friends had counselled her, “Say you were raped, you were not so? You don’t want the baby, do you? You might get AIDS, the baby might…” But her faith and her belief and love for her unborn baby held firm and she had approached the agency before even telling her mother. The kindly woman comforted her, reassured her, offered help.
On 24th December the thirty-something couple received a phone call. “Hurry to the hospital – your baby has arrived. Her mother has called her Joy!” ……………….
Our family cribs can be personalised, using mementoes from life. travels around the world, houses, animals and images. Mementoes and memories are special treasures to be shared with our loved ones too.
May the welcoming of the new-born Christ-child fill our hearts and lives with a joy to be shared with God’s people everywhere.. TR FAMILY WEEKLY 25 DECEMBER 2019