Christmas is coming; I will pray for you and I ask you to pray for me. God will hear us both, giving us strength and courage; His Kingdom will come to us and, whatever the future, we will move forward with firm steps towards the destiny that awaits us.
Frederic Ozanam, Letter to his mother, December 23, 1831.
- Frederic, 18 years old, had been living in Paris for a little more than a month when he wrote this letter. Having just arrived in the capital to pursue his university studies, he greatly missed his family in Lyon. He could not travel home because he had no vacation time. He found him self in a situation in which he was separated from his family and accompanied by a handful of friends from Lyon who, like him, were studying in Paris.
- In this letter Frederic said goodbye to his mother and wrote those beautiful words. Undoubtedly, Christmas time, for him and for most everyone else, was a time that brought to the forefront the most profound human feelings. We remembered his loved ones and wished them well. Frederic, as a man of faith, assured his mother and his other family members of his prayer and was confident that they, in turn, would pray for him. That bond of union broke through the barriers of separation, comforted Frederic and gave him “strength and courage.”
- Frederic was convinced that the Kingdom of God will come, no matter what the future, no matter how many uncertainties, problems, or anxieties assaulted him … Men and women of faith know that despite all those different situations, the will of God’s will be fulfilled. The Kingdom of God, which is foreshadowed in some way in the birth of the child in Bethlehem, is like the arrow that the archer shoots: people see it flying through the air and, although it has not yet fallen to the ground, they know that it will reach its goal. At the present time, we do not live the fullness of the Kingdom, but we have no doubt that one day the Kingdom of God, in all its fullness, will become a reality.
Questions for dialogue:
- Today, many people spend Christmas alone. Unfortunately they do not have their loved ones near them and so they are saddened during this time of joy. Those men and women are our neighbor … Can we do anything for these people who, like Frederic, feel alone at Christmas?
- During this Christmas season, will we engage in any activity on behalf of those who are poor?
- Am I convinced that, despite all the multiple problems and disappointments, the Kingdom of God is being built up in our midst? Am I a person of hope?
- Do I wish my family and friends a Merry Christmas? Do those wishes come from the depths of my heart and, as was the case with Frederic, do those wishes reveal my love and my nearness to my family?