This is a joyful time of year as we just celebrated the birth of Christ. We ought to take the time to reflect on the events that surround Christ’s birth. As this joyful mystery of Christ’s birth unfolded in the history of mankind, it required a God-man to fulfill the Father’s plan to redeem the world.
Nine months prior to Jesus’ birth there was a miraculous event that changed the history of the world forever. A heavenly being came to earth to speak to a young girl. It was Mary’s “Yes” to the angel Gabriel’s message, that allowed the baby Jesus to be conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary was and is a pure and holy vessel. She had to be, for God and sin cannot dwell together. She is a conduit of grace for our struggling world. There could not have been another way for Jesus to share in our humanity, to be fully God and fully man, then being born of a woman.
As I gather with family and friends throughout the holidays, it reminds me of the time Mary spent with her cousin Elizabeth. The joyful days they spent together praising and thanking God for the miraculous gifts of life, and the events that they and their families experienced must have been a great source of joy.
The circumstances around the birth of baby Jesus brings to the forefront of our minds that all life is precious and should be protected. Mary and Joseph experienced the miraculous birth of the baby Jesus, following a difficult and untimely journey to Bethlehem. Then, there was the harrowing escape from King Herod and his soldiers shortly after the birth of Jesus. To this day the same selfish desires and sinful story lines continue to play out, but we know that evil will not win, because Christ was born for this reason. He was born to save us from our sins and give us the opportunity to obtain Heaven.
We can only imagine the excitement that Joseph and Mary felt when Jesus was born. The excitement of a new life is always a joyous occasion. We participate in this excitement when we celebrate by sharing in the parent’s joy through birthdays and other special events. In the Jewish tradition, a baby is presented in the temple forty days after the birth of the child. Mary, Joseph and Jesus entered the temple to fulfill the requirements of Jewish Law. Simeon, a “just and devout” man, proclaimed he had seen the Savior. He held Him in his arms and recognized the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. We, too, should continue the celebration of Christmas into the new year.
As we move into a new year, the festive gatherings end, and the excitement turns into the daily routine. Let’s try not to become complacent and forget the reason why Christ entered time.
History has little detail of Jesus’s early childhood years and experiences until the finding in the temple. During the finding in the temple, after three days of stressful searching, Joseph and Mary find Jesus sitting among the elders, teaching and discussing the scriptures. This event makes me contemplate what the Holy Family’s life may have been like; Jesus, Mary and Joseph living together. I can only assume the Holy Family lived life as we understand family life, but with a lot fewer distractions and “stuff.” What took the place of that “stuff” was a family who shared and discussed their people’s history, studied their faith and prayed together as a family. This is a model for us all to follow in the new year. Let us remember to invite Jesus into these joyful times we spend together as family and pray for our family members who are struggling or could not be with us this holiday season.
Let us all begin our new year contemplating God’s gift of family and these joyful times. Let’s hold them close to our hearts and ponder how God loves us all so much to allow us to share in this joyful mystery of how God became man and dwelt among us to provide us with the opportunity to achieve the end goal of Heaven.
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