One of the great joys of the Christmas Season is the time we spend with one another – families and friends gathered together, not just to have a good time, but to pray together and to remember the things that make families strong and secure.
It is very important that we do this, for during the year, as everyone knows from personal experience, there are many times when the peace and unity of families are tested.
Young children growing up face all kind of challenges, and if their parents do not provide the proper parental guidance, direction and the encouragement they need, then chances are the children will look elsewhere, which has the potential for trouble.
And our older people – our parents and grandparents, who have given us so much, and who we love and care for so deeply – can make demands on us. And if we let ourselves become angry or bitter about the care we are obliged to give them out of love and respect, then great unhappiness can result, and again trouble enters our family, and our peace begins to unravel.
What about husbands and wives? When you look upon the joy that Christmas brings to the faces of your children, and when you see the happiness that your own elderly mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts are able to feel, taking part in the celebrations you have made possible, by your work and by your constant attention, then you are touched to the depths of your souls, and grateful for this warmth that Christmas brings. But you also know very well that during the rest of the year, the challenges, the problems, the trials you will face are many indeed.
These troubles that we all experience in varying degrees are not anything to be ashamed about. As a matter of fact they are quite natural – they come from our imperfect human natures. Each of us suffers from the same problems that drove Adam and Eve apart from God the Father. But if we are to overcome these problems, then we must learn to take an active part in the plan that God has made for each one of us – the plan that make us a part of the loving care that He sent to us when God sent us His Son, our Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ who teaches us and reminds us through His Church how to love one another, how to bear with the problems of life, how to get on with winning our salvation, and steering those we must help in the direction of God’s peace.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, the Church asks us to pray about these things, and to remember the best family that ever walked on earth – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And even though Mary and Joseph were specially blessed by God, and even though Jesus shared with His Father, heavenly perfection, they all encountered great problems here on earth, and we should not think that they escaped the same difficulties that face us.
St. Joseph, though he hardly speaks in the pages of Scripture, is still for us a figure of great strength and courage. And Mary, who can really and truly know and understand the depth of her courage and love? And we see on this Feast at the heart of the Holy Family the baby Jesus, who already has a heart filled with love for all men and women – for each one of us! Though an infant in a manger, already His being was filled with the love that would lead Him to the greatest of sacrifices – laying down His life for us, and rising to new life so that we might have in our own hearts hope for glory.
Dear friends, as we think about Jesus, Mary and Joseph on this their feast as a family, and as we quickly approach a new year, let us pray for ourselves and for our own families, that with the help of these three persons, each of us may face the difficulties and challenges of daily life and bring to all our problems the spirit that we feel today – the spirit of caring and loving for one another, just as they cared for one another, and loved each other to the end and beyond.
I pray that each of you and your families may enjoy God’s abundant gift of love, so that the coming year of 2015 will be filled with many joys, blessings, prosperity, good health, and peace. I am,
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Very Rev. Michael J. Lumpe
Rector, Saint Joseph Cathedral
Pastor, Holy Cross Church
Vicar for Priests, Diocese of Columbus