COLUMN: The Facebook of God’s family

Father James Hughes of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Parish in Abbotsford shares a few words about the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Dec. 24, 2011 5:00 a.m.

by Father James Hughes, Contributor

Among many Christmas cards mailed by now, there are even more Christmas messages sent through common social networks like Facebook. Such technology has made it easier and faster to connect than ever before. Unfortunately many more people may be disconnected to the purpose of the Christmas celebration!

These holidays for Christians retell the story of a family travelling to reconnect to old family ties as Joseph enrols his name in the city of David called Bethlehem along with his betrothed, Mary, who was pregnant. This child to be born according to family lineage would have generations of connections, yet he would stand out as the Saviour of mankind; they would name him Jesus Christ – the Anointed One. (In a Christian bible, you can find this great story in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke).

In many Christian churches once again, this Christmas story in the Scriptures is retold and celebrated to remind us that God did not put us on this earth outside some human context, rather He created us lovingly for the purpose of a connection to know and love Him within His great family. God’s family to date has known every kind of personality and unique character, so that God’s ability to reach out to every human being is beyond compare. His family is never too large to welcome another who wants to know themselves more in the context of God and his family.

The true challenge to every Christian is to remind themselves that the fullest way to live as Christians in the world is to not avoid family, but to connect to it through worship together, by service together for others’ needs, and taking bravely the steps of true forgiveness of old wounds, especially where there is real resentment.

Our society often criticizes Christians and people of other faiths because of their sins of hypocrisy and scandal, and they are right to do so, yet this does not invalidate the need to belong. We are not part of the family of God because “we have it together,” but are in need of God and community because of our limited and weak nature. God’s strength can become our own!

This story of God’s family never grows weary at this time of year if we understand that we are really a part of it; if we look to unfold the greater depths of so long a tradition. Christians are reminded in worship of the pinnacle purpose of Christmas in the Gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

As we look to enjoy some days off, may the full story of Christmas be a real “Facebook” when we fulfill our purpose on this earth of meeting God “face to face” in eternity. Merry Christmas!

Fr. James Hughes is a Roman Catholic priest for 13 years and is presently pastor of St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Parish in Abbotsford for the last five years.

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