The Sunday following Christmas is dedicated to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
The Gospel reading for this day (Luke 2: 22-40) is that of the presentation when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to Jerusalem to consecrate him to the Lord. There they meet Simeon and Anna – two individuals who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to see Jesus as the Christ, the long awaited Savior.
While the Feast of the Holy Family is about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph it is also about all those who have been invited to be members of this Family by faith. This celebration is also an invitation to nurture our families in faith and holiness, allowing Jesus to be a part of our families.
Looking back over this week the Sisters have experienced the gift of family in a surprising number of ways.
Christmas is a time of connecting with others – cards, gifts, visits, prayers and liturgies – which often carries over into the new year. The Sisters were grateful for opportunities to join individuals and families for meals and celebrations following Christmas. It was a time to experience the families of others, to learn about their traditions, faith, and values. It is heartening to see families who enjoy being together and who invite others into their circle of warmth and love. It was a time to grow in relationship with neighbors, Redeemer Associates, and others who have found a “family” and “home” with the Sisters.
Some of the Sisters had the opportunity to visit with their own family and friends as well. Rather than being separated from family and friends, Sisters are encouraged to maintain those relationships and in fact welcome them into the congregational family.
The Sisters experienced family among themselves as they joined together as an entire community to usher in the New Year – preparing a meal, sharing stories, joining in prayer, joyfully and loudly welcoming the New Year, and inviting others to be a part of the celebration.
At week’s end, a small family came to visit and stay with the Sisters. What a gift to hear the sounds of a joyful reunion and the smiles and cries of a baby!
It was also a time to say good-bye to a young man who has served with the Sisters for the past year and a half as he left for college. He truly is a witness to the gift of a strong loving family. He gave credit to his Mom and Dad for forming him into the person he is today. The Sisters are sad to see him go but happy for this opportunity he has to follow his dreams.
Finally, at the end of the week one of the Sisters departed for Honduras to visit an orphanage for boys and girls. It is more of a home than an orphanage. Many children still have both parents but were often abused, neglected or abandoned by their families, relatives or friends. They have discovered a place of joy, hope, and healing in their new “family.”
As you enter more fully into this New Year, perhaps you may want to reach out to family or friends you have not connected with in a while. Are there relationships that are in need of reconciliation or healing? Is there someone you have not heard from in a while. Would you like to celebrate or acknowledge the gift that a family member of friend is to you? Perhaps there is just a need to be present to another more often in this new year.
May you and your loved ones experience many blessing in this New Year!