Circular Letter of the Prior General
The Family of Nazareth
To All the Members of the St John of God Family
My Dear Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers and Friends,
As Christmas approaches, I send my best wishes of good health and peace to the whole Hospitaller Family of St John of God throughout the world. God renewed his promise of light and hope to all human beings by taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being born into a modest family that welcomed him with deep faith and hospitality.
The evangelists Matthew and Luke narrate the familiar events surrounding the birth of Jesus and His Family travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where their first-born son was to be born, in very unbecoming surroundings. This is how God wished to become man, by breaking into the world, from below, identifying with the poorest and the most needy, and sharing weakness with them, in order to restore dignity and hope to all.
The Family of Nazareth. Jesus spent most of his life in Nazareth with his parents. Mary and Joseph heard the news of the coming of their Son in an amazing manner, but they were always receptive to God, agreeing to His plan and to the part in it that God had given to them. We know very little about those years, but we can safely say that Jesus was born and lived in an unpretentious home, where Mary and her husband welcomed and nurtured him, loved him, and brought him up in every area of life, including the life of faith, giving him the support every child needs to grow properly. The Family of Nazareth is a model for us and stands as an example to all families, but without being idealised. His parents would certainly have experienced times when they found it hard to understand their son, and we can well imagine that they had to face the same difficulties that any family does.
At this Christmastide, I should like to call to mind all the families in the world, and in particular the families of each and every one of us. I invite you to look to the Family of Nazareth, without idealising it, realistically, with faith, and above all with genuine love, that love which always places the others – son or daughter, husband or wife – before self. Families that know how to deal with difficult moments while holding fast to this love, as occasions that reach out to life, especially to caring, educating and loving their children through example and testimony, which is the most effective form of education.
Thanks to all the families who are trying to live their daily lives, even in distressing situations and suffering from whatever cause.
How sad it is to see so many families which break up, suffer and are unable to function properly, often for no fault of their own, sometimes because society fails to help them cope with the problems that arise, particularly in today’s difficult times, with the deep economic crisis and a crisis of values. For these families, too, the Family of Nazareth has a message. It was not easy for them, either. We know that there is no such thing as a magic recipe or a magic wand in life, but I invite them to look to the Holy Family in faith and in their hearts, in order to discover its very essence, which is the love and the mercy that the God-Child, the Son of God, brings to all of us.
At this Christmastide, I would like to make a special mention of our Saint John of God Hospitaller Family, which is a reflection of that Family of Nazareth to which we are looking, and whose example we are following. Having been called by the Charism and the Mission of the Hospitality of Saint John of God, we are also called like Mary and Joseph to welcome in the God-Child who wishes to be born in each and every one of us, and in each and every one of our Centres, to bring the light and hope to the sick and the suffering. This is God’s plan for our Family. This is the contribution which the Church and the world is expecting us to make. I thank every one of you for your commitment and for making it possible to enable the Good News which Christmas brings to be resonate, day after day, in the life of our Order and our Hospitaller Family.
And to all the sick and all the guests for whom we care in our Centres and all their loved ones, I assure you that I am standing by your side, encouraging you to look at all times to the Family of Nazareth in which you will find the strength you need to place your whole trust in God, just as Mary and Joseph did.
I wish you all, Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers, Benefactors and Friends of the Order, the sick and the guests in our Centres, a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2018, for yourselves and for your loved ones. And to all the Brothers and Co-workers who will be remaining by the side of the sick and the guests in our care on Christmas Day, I offer my sincere thanks and good wishes.
On behalf of the whole Hospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia, Brothers and Co-workers, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas full of Hospitality!
Brother Jesús Etayo