Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessed and Happy Christmas to All

Our beautiful Christmas cards, lovely lullaby hymns, and Christmas pageants can sometimes give an inaccurate impression of what really happened.  When Jesus came into the world on that first Christmas it was not in a camera-ready Christmas card setting with a clean, neat bed and all the people in their proper places, knowing what to do and when. 

Think of the reality of the situation. Mary, in the last days of her pregnancy, put aside all her preparations for the coming of her Baby to make the long hard trip to Bethlehem which she believed God wanted of her. Travel is never easy, even in our day. For instance, anyone who has made a long journey by plane is doing it the easy way, compared to the Holy Family and their mode of travel. But we know that there is packing – choosing what you can take and what would exceed the weight limits. A revised estimate of what is absolutely necessary quickly dawns on you. Then there is the rush to meet the plane, the hassles with luggage and tickets, finding the right boarding gate, elbowing your way through the noisy crowds, arguing over seating arrangements, making do with skimpy means en route. Sleep is hard to come by, taken in cat naps on uncomfortable chairs in planes or waiting rooms of airports, trying to hold on to your few worldly possessions lest they be snatched while you doze. The fatigue builds up until you are ready to drop. Everything is unfamiliar, uncertain, unready. 

Now as we said, that is the easy way. It was far worse for the Holy Family. Poor Joseph tried his best to smooth the way for Mary but he was not understood by his countrymen. Mary and Joseph probably heard things like, “What do you mean coming out in this cold weather in your condition? You ought to be home preparing for your child. What kind of father are you? The law does not oblige you to drag your wife along for the census. Are you crazy?” But it was under exactly these conditions that Mary brought Jesus into this world.

Yes, it was exhausting, draining, unpleasant, but down deep there was extreme joy. For Mary and Joseph it was all worth it, to bring into this weary world the Savior which mankind had expected for centuries. To hear the story of the poor shepherds who related how the angels had sung in the skies to announce the birth of this little Baby. To be able to use the little strength and resources they had to support the life of the Creator of the World. What glory! What an honor!

When we experience fatigue, stress, misunderstandings, complications, pain, we can look to the Jesus, Mary and Joseph who understand all these things from their own experience. They will help us to ‘hang in there’ and look below the surface. There we will appreciate the privilege of being part of this magnificent plan of God. 

Today the Holy Family can again be seen in our midst. Each time we notice an exhausted mother, a stressed father, a child in need, we can look into their face and rejoice in the honor of serving Jesus in disguise.

May the holy and blessed season of Christmas bring many graces and joys to each of our families and friends. 

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