Many reflections on radio, read on TV and written in the newspapers over this Christmas period, seem caught between trying to reconcile the Covid Christmas economy with the very obvious independent desire to celebrate Christmas with family; even hardnosed commentators and savvy politicians recognised that this Christmas was more important than the Boxing Day sales.
We must be home for Christmas.
Most in Australia were able to make it. Some were caught up in the mini outbreaks of Covid here. Overseas it was much more destructive on family gatherings. That sense of conflict and personal suffering around the Christmas season 2020, might make us remember that similar pain existed for the family of Nazareth; made to travel by the Roman occupying power and very difficult terrain which, even today the hardy walker can traverse, or if she or he decides, take a donkey as companion, hoping that the necessary service stations would be open. In their day they hoped for board and lodging. It was not always available.
Yes, conflict and personal suffering accompanied Joseph and Mary; even in the Temple; “a sword will pierce your own soul too” added to the prophesy that “this child is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel”.
Fascinating, is it not, that when God’s love encounters human suffering there is conflict and suffering.
It can’t be avoided. It can be conquered.
Just as Mary and Joseph fulfilled the civil law and got counted, so too they presented their child to the Temple, brought joy to Simeon and Anna, and in a sense offered HOPE to the world
In our families, this year especially, whilst we honour our civil obligations, let us remember the God who loves us, the Son who gave his life for us, and the Spirit present in us through our Baptism and Confirmation. Honouring those realities will enable each of us to have truly happy and holy families.
Let’s bring a touch of peace to our New Year gatherings.