For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:20-21)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Many of us feel especially nostalgic during Advent and Christmas. With the spirit of giving and sharing, everywhere we look, it’s the perfect time to reflect on days gone by. Memories of celebrations of the birth of our Blessed Savior through the years, bring us smiles and sometimes, even tears. The decorations, lights, gifts, bells and Nativity scenes transport us to moments with our families. This is often the time we think of them most.
Family, while always a priority, has been a special focal point for the Church this year. From our own Archdiocesan Synod here in Milwaukee, to the Vatican’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, both recognize the significance of life at home. As St. John Paul II frequently noted, the family is the domestic Church: “Christian marriage and family build up the Church: for in the family the human person is not only brought into being and progressively introduced by means of education into the human community, but by means of rebirth in baptism and education in the faith is also introduced to God’s family, which is the Church.”
As we look at the Holy Family, we see the love of God for us. When we think of a family, this is one beautiful example. An infant—the Light of the World and his Virgin Mother, both left in the care of Joseph; a man revered by me and many others, as the world’s greatest stepfather. Jesus’ highly-anticipated and prophesized arrival, made Him the world’s most-loved and most-hated newborn at the same time. These three people, by all accounts, were fugitives. Carrying precious cargo, these loving parents remained faithful to God. Even in the midst of great danger and personal sacrifice, Mary and Joseph put Christ first.
What wonderful lessons from our Holy Mother and Earthly Patron! When we put our Savior first and place our families in His care, we will be forever blessed.
Take time to treasure your family during this very special season. After all, the ability to give love and to receive love, is the greatest gift we share, as followers of Christ. May the Lord’s peace and grace be with you this Christmas, and throughout 2015!
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee