One of the miracles of Christmas is that even in a modern society, where you often find yourself seemingly besieged by rampant materialism, the true meaning of Christmas is never entirely lost. Even nonbelievers are moved by the symbolism of an innocent child who represents humanity’s hope and who came to earth to invite each person to reach out to God and to one another. I cannot imagine a more beautiful story.

Christmas has a way of bringing out the best in people. It’s a time of year when we look upward in search of peace and hope and outward in search of reconciliation.

You may disagree. Turn on a television or read a newspaper this month, and it will seem the world is just as broken as it was last month. We constantly hear about the pressure of individualism straining the bonds between ourselves. And far too often we choose to react by closing in on ourselves. But Christmas is a unique opportunity given to us all to make things right, with God and with one another.

This season, a father and son who haven’t spoken in years will greet each other with a hug. A daughter who has a grudge against her mother will whisper in her ear that she loves her. Siblings who have drifted apart will look at each other and remember the joys of their childhood and shared experiences.

Such exchanges may be awkward and often don’t come easily, but part of the magic of Christmas is that for a few weeks, all around the world, in all kinds of cultures, communities, and families, people rediscover what unites them and come together to share a brief but blessed moment of peace and fraternity.

Whether your December is synonymous with snowstorms or trips to the beach, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas, and may God bless you and yours with His perfect peace and love, this season and always.