Christmas Message from Archbishop André Gaumond, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Experience teaches us how Christmas is truly a celebration for children. It celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1.14), humbly born in a poor stable in the heart of an ordinary family from Nazareth, in Galilee. In these early years of the 21st century, with the family subject to so many challenges of every kind, we cannot be insensitive to the beauty and grandeur we contemplate on Christmas night.
The fragile being in Mary’s arms reflects the vulnerability of children, wherever they are in the world. Jesus was born in difficult conditions. At first glance, it seems almost inconceivable the Son of God would choose to become incarnate in our humanity in such desolate circumstances. Yet when we examine this more closely, the reality is quite different.
The Holy Family constituted a wonderful environment for the Infant Jesus. The father, a humble carpenter, was attentive and gentle. He knew how to surround his son with kindness and how to teach him his trade. The mother, a modest daughter of Israel, was loving, full of kindness and concern for her family. The son, no doubt like any other boy playful and energetic, was the joy and admiration of his parents.
As with all families, this one would also have its share of sufferings, beginning with the flight into Egypt. Later, it would be deeply afflicted by the death of Joseph, who is absent from the public life of Jesus – and we know Jesus was deeply affected by death, for he wept on learning that his friend Lazarus had died. Like a good mother, Mary would be with her son until his last breath.
If the Holy Family is a model for us in our time, it is because the families of the world identify with it. There is nothing extraordinary about this family, unless it is its abundance of love – a love that was reciprocal, binding together Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family is a trustworthy guide for family life today, as well as a source of inspiration for wounded and broken families. Like the Holy Family, families today must continue to rely on God’s merciful love.
May Christmas be for all of us an opportunity to strengthen the ties of love within our families! Let us turn our eyes to the Holy Family, so we too can share and communicate the same peace, joy and hope.
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