REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
One night a long time ago an angel appeared to some shepherds and told them a savior had been born nearby who would save people from their sins and ultimately from death. Then many angels appeared proclaiming “peace on earth, good will to all.” What an amazing scene in the hills outside Bethlehem!
Jesus was born to reconcile humanity with God and with one another. He came to establish the just order based on loving God above all else and on loving others as children of God. Sharing human life to the point of suffering and dying, Jesus brought hope. He rose from the dead never to die again, and he offers eternal life to all who come to him.
Pope Francis has called Christmas “the feast of trust and of hope which overcomes uncertainty and pessimism.” He said: “And the reason for our hope is this: God is with us... he comes to abide with mankind, he chooses earth as his dwelling place to remain with people...in joy or in sorrow. Therefore, earth is no longer only ‘a valley of tears’; rather, it is the place where God himself has pitched his tent, it is the meeting place of God with humanity, of God’s solidarity with people.”
The Son of God took flesh so he could be with us. He offered his flesh on the cross for the life of the world. He continues to offer his flesh, his Body and Blood, in the Eucharist. As Pope Francis said, “This closeness of God to every man and woman, to each of us, is a gift that never fades.”
May this Christmas bring peace and hope to all!
How do I find peace and hope in the celebration of Christmas?
Colossians 1: 15-23 Christ is our peace and reconciliation.
When parents shirk their responsibilities to their children, society tries to step in to ensure that neglected children receive the necessary care. Children needs include physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual. We tend to focus on the physical needs, but, though important, those needs are temporary, affecting a child’s earthly life. Neglecting children’s moral needs threatens the future of society which depends upon citizens adhering to upright moral values. That’s important, but neglecting a child’s spiritual needs endangers his or her eternal destiny.
Pope Francis said: “No one becomes Christian on his or her own! Christians are not made in a laboratory. We have received the faith from our parents, from our ancestors, and they have instructed us in it. We are able to live this journey not only because of others, but together with others. In the Church there is no ‘do it yourself’, there are no ‘free agents’.”
Parents are the first and most important catechists. According to Pope Paul VI, “since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.”
Evangelization begins at home. If children have not been raised in the faith and with moral values, it’s often too late for schools and the larger society to make up for the neglect. As we pray with Pope Francis that parents may be true evangelizers, we ask that they not only speak about the faith but live it in a way that speaks even louder than their words.
What are some of the ways that parents can make sure their children are not spiritually neglected?
Romans 10: 14-17 Faith comes from what is heard.
O sweet Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share with all our hearts in this profound mystery of Christmas. Put into the hearts of all people this peace for which they sometimes seek so desperately, and which you alone can give them. Help us to know one another better and to live as children of the same Father. Unite us all in charity and grant us your heavenly peace. Amen.
--St. John XXIII
Links for December, 2014 Evangelization Intention
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