The events in the world in recent weeks and months have certainly been devastating to see. As our calendars turn to December, we see the country of Jesus’ birth once again go through so much turmoil and become a place of war and disagreement. The now innumerable homeless people, and consequently refugees, are an incredibly stark reminder of the end of the Christmas story, which is often forgotten as the needles fall from our Christmas trees and we face the reality of a new year.
For us, the journey into Egypt is full of unspoken emotions – Joseph’s incredulity and fear after his vision of warning from the angels, and Mary’s palpable fear of safety for her new family, are incredibly thought-provoking. Sadly, these fears of safety for family life are a real concern for an innumerable number of people today. The Holy Family had to flee the threat of persecution, crossing an international border, fleeing with no more than the clothes on their back and very few, if any, possessions. History is once again repeating itself.
Fortunately, most of us will not be refugees in this sense this Christmas, but are we truly sharing with our spouses the challenges and fears that we have, for example for peaceful and honest communication within our immediate family? Or are we filled with anxieties about plans for time with the extended family over the Christmas period or is it anxiety about family security and stability as we turn the pages of our calendars to a new year?
These concerns and fears are truly significant for all who face them. Christmas is not defined by presents or other material aspects. Christmas is a time for the peace of Christ to truly live in our hearts, in our families and to impact our words and actions over the festive period. So, our challenge is to use this time of Advent to be truly present to our loved ones, to enable them to share their true feelings. We have to be courageous as we may not like what we hear – feelings of isolation and emotional homelessness. We have been gifted this time of Advent to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth rather than focussing on material possessions that at any time we may have to leave behind. Can we seize the moment and use this time to be ready in our relationships to openly welcome Christ into our hearts and our little Churches – our families?
We wish you all a very blessed and holy Christmas
Caroline & Michael L’Estrange
Retrouvaille England & Wales Coordinators