Dearest lay people, young people who share the mission,
I feel great joy in meeting each of you where you are to give you my Christmas greetings and that of the whole Institute. I am having a very beautiful experience because I feel all of you very close even with the geographical distances are immense.
Effectively, our common home is as big as the world! In spite of this, we feel close because we are many hearts that beat to the rhythm of love, forming one immense heart that contains the whole world.
As I speak, I am seeing all the various contexts, I hear different languages, and I embrace all of you together and each one personally.
Together toward Christmas
Christmas is coming again. Together in every Province and educating community we are walking toward Bethlehem, attracted by an interior power that makes us go toward someone we wish to know, to meet, who brings hope, peace, and joy. We take this journey with Mary and Joseph toward the place of revelation of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of humanity – Jesus.
To walk together is a great gift, the gift of unity that our charism continues to build day by day among sisters, laity, and youth. The journey is guided by the Star that leads everyone to the stable of Bethlehem. Everyone gathers and meets around Him. We too are invited this Christmas by the Star that guides us to Jesus. We encounter Him in the Cave which is also every person. How beautiful if on this feast of Christmas, we could follow the star that guides us to encounter Jesus in the face of every person, in their eyes that reflect His mysterious presence, in their being that incarnates Jesus today.
At Christmas, God becomes a baby, small, poor, defenseless so that we can approach Him and in Him recognize ourselves. The mystery is very great! Do I really believe that God became human in Jesus? That He chose littleness to be more accessible, closer, more within our reach?
Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by the Mystery! Let wonder be our deep attitude this Christmas. Let us leave aside all our reasoning to enter into the logic of love.
Christmas with Mary, the Mother
This Christmas, I invite you to approach and question Mary, His Mother.
She sees the fulfillment of the Plan of God that had changed her life. Her ‘yes’ given in faith becomes fruitful in Jesus who is born. She certainly lived unique emotions and sentiments when she received in her arms Her Baby who was also her God.
In her was all the tenderness of a mother who loves her little one, who wanted Him and waited for Him; who had felt Him take root and grow in her womb. But the beginning was different for her. Before she could even imagine it, it was God who proposed it to her, who asked her to generate Him, Her Son and the Son of God…
Together with human tenderness there was much more because she knew that He was the ‘Son of the Most High’. This is what the Angel told her: a pure sentiment of adoration and praise.
She probably asked herself at times how it was possible that this newborn like all others, needing her to live and grow, nursing at her breast was the Son of God, the Messiah expected by her people, announced in the Scriptures.
Small, fragile, defenseless, to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and well covered so that He would not be cold, to feed at her breast.
To protect against every possible danger and, at the same time, to offer Him to the adoration of the shepherds, of the Magi… without her being able to reveal anything more precise about His divinity.
Shepherds and Magi received the announcement of the birth of a ‘savior’, of ‘Christ’, the Anointed, of the Messiah, and they came.
They found a poor family, and the ‘sign’ was precisely this: you will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger (Luke 2:12).
Who knows if Mary was afraid that they could harm Him or she trusted their good will. The days of fear and flight would soon come.
At Mary’s side was Joseph who had lived the event in faith together with Mary. It was a faith that is total trust in God because ‘nothing is impossible for God’. Thus, they let themselves be involved in a project of life different from the one they had imagined.
At this time of Christmas, with Mary and Joseph, we can look at the plan of God for our life, accept it trustfully, and let ourselves be guided by Him.
The Nativity Scene
Often in our Nativity scenes, Jesus is represented unclothed. It is a metaphor to express His poverty, His spoliation, His kenosis. “Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance.” (Phil. 2:6-7).
The shepherds found Him ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes’, as were all the newborns of His time, covered exactly like all other children, desired and awaited by a young family, and not even too poor since Joseph was an artisan and thus earned his living by working. Probably not as poor as the families of the shepherds who were watching over their flocks that night, servants of a rich owner, not the masters of the sheep they guarded. Thus they were salaried, exposed to precarity, to the arrogance, to the caprices, at times, of the rich.
But Jesus wanted to be born in absolute poverty. At Nazareth He would have found a home, a cradle, everything that was not at Bethlehem…
Even the atmosphere of adoration of the first hours will soon be dissipated after His birth. Informed by the Magi of the birth of the King of the Jews, Herod will send out soldiers to kill Him and God will save His Son by ordering Joseph to flee into Egypt and to stay there until He Himself would call him back.
So small and yet a refugee in a strange land, in the Egypt that was the cradle in which the people of Israel were born as such, where they were oppressed, and from where they left for the Promised Land.
The Nativity Scene Today
In every part of the world, at our doors, there are families, children, babies who do not have a home, who must be content with makeshift shelters. Some parents do not even have anything warm to wrap their little ones to protect them from the cold; or food to feed them or clean water to make them drink. In every part of the worldthere are families who are forced to leave their Country, belongings, customs in order to go far in search of safety, peace, work. Let us allow ourselves to be questioned. Let us allow the extreme poverty of these sisters and brothers touch our heart deeply and obligate us to find ways to alleviate this, to give at least to someone the warmth of a home, of a family.
Let us be involved as educating communities together with the laity and the young people, committing ourselves to work for the rights of the weakest. This will truly be Christmas.
Already we are present in many places with those who suffer, who live the tragedy of war and of famine, of destroyed homes, and the death of their dear ones. Let us continue along this road: Our Lady will be content with us and will help us to make her present in all the districts of the world.
She continues to walk in our houses and protects us with her mantle. She continues to gather under that same mantle those who enter into one of our houses for whatever reason. She continues to love them as her children and she wants us to be her true images!
We will meet each other on the Holy Night to listen to the song of the Angels: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2: 14). It is a hopeful song for each of us, for the people we love, for the young entrusted to us, for those we do not meet, for our educating communities, and for the whole world.
May Christmas be for us and for our educating communities the time to become deeply aware of the Father’s love, of this love that embraces everyone with the same tenderness and the same origin and become the time for opening our heart to respond to this love.
To love God and, in Him, for Him love our sisters and brothers He places along our path, accepting with gratitude the gift of peace He gives us at Christmas. Let us collaborate with Him to build it and progress so that His peace will reach this world of ours traversed by many conflicts; so that each one may recognize in the Sonbecome human, the sign of this infinite love and respond to it generously.
I thank you for the many greetings I have received from all over the world. They are a sign of the family spirit that deeply unites us. I ask Jesus to pour out on you the superabundance of His grace and to help us to make Him be born again in the heart of our world that is in need of salvation.
Merry Christmas and Holy New Year 2019.
Rome, 24 December 2018
Superior General, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat