The blessing and challenge of Christmas and New Year

NOW that Christmas passed by, we look at the photos of families and friends shared on Facebook and Instagram and express a profound gratitude to God. Thank God for another beautiful Christmas! 

Thank God for parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and other family members who drove or flew from far places to be with us. Thank God for the exchange of gifts, the laughter and joy, the food and drinks. Indeed thank God for a beautiful family celebration!

Thank God for the Christian community we belong to—for fellow worshipers and the witnessing of their faith.

Thank God for the priests who celebrated the liturgies and inspired us with their well-thought homilies.

Beneath the joy and laughter of Christmas gatherings and photos of family and friends is the reality that there is no perfect family and perfect community. Deep inside us are our struggles and pains in family and community relationships.

We’re concerned about our health and those of other people. We deal with our insecurities and anxieties about our jobs, our children’s future, and the political climate of our country and other parts of the world.

And so, our continuing challenge is to keep striving for love, understanding, forgiveness, and peace in families and communities throughout the year It’s the challenge that St. Paul Sunday (COL 3:12-21): “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Mary and Joseph are great examples of faith and virtues for us. They too faced challenges of safety and security for their new family as they fled to Egypt. 

Let’s welcome this New Year filled with hope and trust in God who is ”Emmanuel” — God with us. Happy New Year!

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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