Holy Family, Refugee Family: Digital Advent Retreat
This digital retreat is a chance to take some time out of the busyness of the season to pause and reflect on how we can welcome Christ into the world today. It takes ten minutes and you can make it anywhere. Wherever you are, begin with a moment of silence, inviting God to open your heart as you make the retreat. Then, prayerfully reflect on the Scripture passages, multi-media and questions offered throughout.
Gracious Lord, Child of Bethlehem, as you were born into a family who fled to Egypt as refugees, help us grow in solidarity with refugees everywhere, to know we are all refugees, until our hearts find refuge in you. Amen
PART ONE: GOD BECAME POOR, IN THE PERSON OF JESUS
"Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea ... to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:4-7)
When Mary was 9 months pregnant, she and Joseph were on the road on their way to enroll in a census. She went into labor and they desperately needed a place to stay, but no one took them in. And so the Son of God entered the world in the only place his parents could find: a manger, in the hay, next to barn animals.
WATCH and ponder as Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle shares how God is in solidarity with the poor through Jesus' Incarnation:
REFLECT: In the nativity story, God shows us that solidarity means being willing to make room for the suffering and joys of others, and to make those joys and sufferings our own. How do you do this in your life? How could you do this better?
PART TWO: JESUS AND HIS FAMILY WERE REFUGEES
"The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.' Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt." (Matthew 2:13-14)
After Jesus is born—and visited by the shepherds and the three kings—an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him they need to leave, as Jesus’ life is being threatened by King Herod. The Holy Family flees to Egypt for safety and remains there until after Herod’s death. The Holy Family becomes a refugee family.
LISTEN to this audio clip where Rev. Tom McQuaid of Catholic Relief Services and the Archdiocese of Chicago unpacks Joseph's "nightmare":
REFLECT: What insight or question does Fr. Tom's reflection raise for you?
PART THREE: THE HOLY FAMILY'S STORY CONTINUES TODAY
The journey of the Holy Family escaping Herod can feel like a distant story with no bearing on our lives. But the Holy Family's journey is being made by families fleeing their countries of origin all around the world today.
Half of the 65 million people displaced globally today are children, and this “lost generation” could spend their entire childhood without a place to call home.
WATCH Bill O'Keefe, CRS Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, tell the story of a modern day Mary—a Syrian refugee who gave birth at a transit camp:
REFLECT: What did you hear or see that moved or challenged you? How could you pray for or reach out to refugee families?
Christ Jesus, We pray that we will recognize the Holy Family in all refugee families who are fleeing harm.
Open our hearts so that we may show your own
solidarity to those who suffer most. Amen