The Christmas Story as Home Visits
This story begins when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Immediately, without hesitation, she embarks on a journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth, already in her 3rd trimester, to provide her with some much-needed assistance. Imagine this being a person-to-person home visit.
Mary and Joseph, an unmarried couple, must leave their hometown and travel to his ancestral home by order of the Roman authorities for a census. They have to travel 150 kms south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It would have been a grueling trip for a fit person, let alone a pregnant woman, up and down hills, perhaps averaging 30 kms per day, a five-day journey through hostile territory. They would have travelled light, likely on foot, possibly with a donkey for Mary to ride, and with the bare necessities of life.
Arriving in Bethlehem at the close of day, they find every door closed at the inn. They have no place to lay their heads and rest after an exhausting journey. They are now temporarily homeless with few resources.
The angels intervened by inviting shepherds to visit the newborn King. Imagine this being a home visit. Imagine the shepherds arriving with some much-needed provisions, milk and other dairy products, possibly some clothing and blankets, all the necessities a family needs to survive away from home.
King Herod issues an edict to slaughter the innocents to protect his crown. Fortunately, the Magi arrive in the nick of time, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They would certainly have considered this a miracle, divine intervention. Imagine this being a home visit. The Holy Family is about to be on the road again, seeking asylum in a foreign land. The Magi have provided a means for them to survive during their exile as refugees.
I am sure that many home visiting teams have experienced similar situations with or without full knowledge of the outcome. Very rarely do we see the full effect of our interventions in the lives of the household members we visit.
During this Christmas season, may we, as Vincentians, be ever more conscious of the great good bestowed and the love imparted through our collaboration with persons in need. Following the example and in the footsteps of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the shepherds and the Magi, we know and believe that “whatsoever assistance we provide to the least person or household, we provide unto the Lord.”
I wish you all a very Merry and Joyful Christmas. May the Lord bless you and yours with love, peace and joy during this Holy Season and in all the days to come.
Claude Bédard, President
National Council of Canada