Dear friends of the Jesuits,
In preparing this year’s Christmas letter, I asked my wife and children what one word represents Christmas for them. My wife and four of the five kids responded with the word “family.” My 15-year-old son answered like a teenage boy might and said “food.” I am of course grateful that none of them responded with “presents” or “gifts.”
Every family has different and special Christmas traditions, but Christmas is truly a time for family. On the first Christmas, the Holy Family was very much alone. They did not have a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, or presents, or even family to keep them company. What could they have been thinking when they arrived in Bethlehem after the arduous journey from Nazareth? Why has God chosen us? Are we worthy to be parents to His Son? We are poor, ordinary people – surely someone else would be a better choice.
Although we are accustomed to seeing beautiful Christmas cards depicting Jesus’ birth with angels hovering and Mary and Joseph (not to mention the animals) appearing calm and serene -- the actual experience – a long journey, being turned away at the inn, and giving birth in a stable was likely quite the opposite. However, Mary and Joseph had promised to submit to the will of God, and they were surely comforted in knowing they were doing God’s will.
They had faith, and in the birth of their son, they undoubtedly had joy. Although it was not the kind of Christmas celebration we are used to in our modern world, the Holy Family was together as a family for the first time on that first Christmas, and God’s light did shine in the darkness of the stable and throughout the world.
The Jesuits thank you for being part of their family, by sharing in their works and ministries through your support, both in gifts and in prayer. They remember their friends and benefactors daily and are praying for you and your families during this holy Christmas season.
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas,
Barry J. Leidl