This past summer, I wrote a blog post on the importance of family. Having just returned from a two week Christmas visit home, I’m again reminded of the importance of love in our lives, especially the love of family. I live in Washington D.C., far away from the majority of my extended family. Most of my 40+ cousins live back in Wisconsin and I now only see them a couple of times each year. As we all grow up, we have become more spread out and family holidays often have significant numbers missing. This year, however, almost everyone made it home for some or all of the many traditional Christmas celebrations. We decorated my grandparents’ house for Christmas, had the chaotic frenzy of opening Christmas presents on Christmas Day, tried to find enough tables and chairs in my grandparents’ basement for Christmas dinner, and raced through the “Round Robin” dinner where we travel from house to house for different courses. I was able to connect with cousins I hadn’t seen since last Christmas, meet the fiancés, boyfriends, girlfriends and new babies who are becoming a part of the ever-growing family.
We see a lot of discussions these days on the “true meaning” of Christmas. We are reminded to keep Christ in Christmas and we can often get lost in the frenzy of the season. What struck me, however, was that celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth was magnified by the people who surrounded me: my family. Christmas is a time where we celebrate our Savior becoming human and coming to us on earth. We do this in many ways; we give presents, have special meals, and unique traditions specific to our families. Being with those we love makes tangible the love of Christ that we celebrate at Christmas.
Today’s first reading from the first letter of John says this:
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
As this Christmas season draws to a close, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on your journey this Advent and Christmas. I hope you were able to spend time with loved ones, be they family or friends. How can you carry this love into this New Year? For as today’s reading reminds us, it is through loving one another that God remains in us.
Rebecca Ruesch is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.