Spending time with family around the holidays is almost a requirement. For many of us, this can be a time of joy or a time of sorrow and pain. Family also comes in many forms as well. We have the biological family and the family we make for ourselves. In my life, my parents and siblings do not accept me because I am LGBTQIA+. So, I have a family of my own making. A family in the church and in my local community that loves and supports me.
Abraham understood this concept all too well. He had a family he made with Hagar and the one promised him by God thru Sarah. This family was rife with struggles as Hagar and Sarah fought over Abraham’s attention and inheritance. God stepped in and promised that Isaac, Sarah and Abraham’s child, would be the one to raise up the nation of Israel and be Abraham’s heir.
Yet, conflict would remain. In many ways, the fighting going on in the Middle East today is a continuation of that eon’s old fight. Seeing this continued conflict inspired Saint Paul to remind the church in his letter to “put on love, that is, the bond of perfection”. He also called on the new Christian faith to work for peace among one another. “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.” He exhorted us to admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
And once Jesus came into the world, Simeon, a prophet of the Most High, would see that love, peace, joy, and hope fulfilled in the Christ-Child. It would cause him so much joy that he would sing out that he could rest in peace knowing that salvation had entered the world. If only we could see that same love and joy to be able to sing out with Simeon.
I know I harp on love a lot. But it is the greatest commandment we are given by Jesus. We are to LOVE God and LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Saint Paul reiterates this message a little differently by saying that “these three remain, Faith, Hope, and Love and the greatest of these is Love”.
Love can overcome the divisions in our world. Love can bring about lasting peace. Love can change the most hardened heart. But we must first learn to love ourselves and those around us. To me, this is the greatest message of this Christmas Season.
So let us work together this season to love more, to love recklessly. We are not promised another day on this earth and so live like today is your last day. Live in a way that you have no regrets. Tell those around you what you feel. And be that loving neighbor to all those you meet.
Pax et Bonum,