December 31, 2017

Holy Family

December 31, 2017:  Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

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Pope Francis Angelus
Today's Holy Family celebration invites us to reflect on the experience of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they grow together as a family in mutual love and trust in God.  Jesus' parents went to the temple to certify that their child belonged to God and that they were the guardians, not owners, of his life.  Only God is the Lord of individual and family history; everything comes from him.  Every family is called to recognize this, guarding and educating children to be open to God, the source of life.  Simeon's prophecy reveals that Jesus came to bring down our false images of God and ourselves, to "contradict" our 'certainties,' to make us "rise" to a journey based on gospel values.  Whenever a family returns to the source of Christian experience, new paths and possibilities open up.
Mary and Joseph returned to their town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew and was filled with wisdom and grace.  Children's growth is a great joy for a family; they're destined to mature, become strong, acquire wisdom, and receive God's grace, as Jesus did.  He truly became a child, and his parents experienced the joy of seeing him mature.  Families are called to create the best conditions for their children's growth, so they may live good lives, worthy of God and constructive for the world.  Mary, Queen of the Family, pray for all families.
Read
  • Sir 3:2-6, 12-14  God sets parents over their children.  Honor your parents:  atone for sins, preserve yourself, store up riches, have your prayers heard, and live long.  Take care of your father; your kindness won't be forgotten.
  • Gn 15:1-6; 21:1-3  Lord / Abram:  “I'll make your reward great.” / “What good will your gifts be if I remain childless?” / “Your own issue shall be your heir.  Count the stars; just so shall your descendants be.”  Abram put his faith in the Lord, who did for Sarah as he'd promised.  Sarah bore Abraham a son; he named him Isaac.
  • Ps 128:1-5  "Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways."  You'll eat the fruit of your handiwork; your wife shall be like a fruitful vine and your children like olive plants around your table.
  • Ps 105:1-6, 8-9  "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."  Praise and thank the Lord, and make his deeds known.  Seek his face, you descendants of Abraham.  He is our God and remembers his covenant.
  • Col 3:12-21 [quintessential "dress your life" reading]:  Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with and forgive one another.  Put on love, and let Christ's peace control you.  Teach one another, singing with gratitude to God.  Do everything in Jesus' name, giving God thanks through him.  Wives, be subordinate to your husbands; husbands, love your wives and don't provoke your children; children, obey your parents.
  • Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19  By faith Abraham obeyed; he went, not knowing where.  He received power to generate, for he thought the one who promised was trustworthy.  By faith Abraham offered up Isaac; he who received the promises was ready to offer him, reasoning that God could raise the dead, and receiving Isaac back.
  • Lk 2:22-40  Mary and Joseph took Jesus to present him to the Lord.  The Spirit revealed to Simeon he'd see the Christ.  When they brought him into the temple, he took him in his arms:  “My eyes have seen your salvation, a light for the Gentiles, and glory for Israel.”  The child’s parents were amazed; Simeon told Mary, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign to be contradicted—and a sword will pierce you.”  Prophetess Anna, 84, came forward, thanked God, and spoke of the child.  The family returned to Nazareth.  The child grew, became filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on him.
Reflect
  • Creighton:  Today's readings don't say Abraham knew how God would fulfill his promise of an heir, but he believed his promise because he considered God trustworthy.  Since he doesn't think Sarah will bear the son, he proposes to adopt his servant Eliezer, but God said Abraham's own issue would be the heir.  Since he still didn't think Sarah would bear the heir, he proposed Hagar.  When God said Sarah would be the mom, Abraham and Sarah both laughed. When Sarah had the son, they named him Isaac ('he who laughs').  I can believe God's words but then decide to 'help' by telling him how to fulfill them, but the Abraham story teaches me to trust God and remember his ways aren't mine.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "The real thing":  When a baby boy is born, some orthodox Jews use the occasion to discuss the Messiah's coming, starting with, "Could this baby be the Messiah?"  Some may have thought Simeon and Anna were doing this when talking about Jesus.  We face a similar situation:  when we proclaim Jesus as Messiah, some may think it's just church-talk, but we must be Spirit-filled like Anna and Simeon and proclaim he's the real thing....
      Jesus in a baby walker/ Clèves Master

    • Passionist:  Christ is here; we need to recognize him in our midst.  At the temple likely nobody recognized Mary, Joseph, and Jesus except for Simeon and Anna.  In our experience, are we like them, open to the Spirit, or the rest who went about ignoring the gift of God?  Who is the “Holy Family” of today?  We're all God's children, so we're all in the same family.  As people clean up after Christmas, let's clean up our lives of things we don’t need but keep the true Gift of Christmas.  Father, help us be your hands and bring our special gifts to those in need….
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The favor of God was upon him":  Mary couldn't afford a lamb so offered two pigeons as the poor did.  Simeon, in tune with the Spirit, believed God would return and renew his chosen people, and the Messiah-King would also save the Gentiles. He recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic prophecy and prophesied that he would be "a revealing light to the Gentiles." / When the Temple was destroyed, God promised to fill it with greater glory; the promise was fulfilled when Jesus came.  Through Jesus we're made living temples of the Spirit.  Simeon prophesied to Mary about the child and the suffering she'd undergo; the blessedness she was given as mother of God would become a sword piercing her heart.  Her sorrow didn't diminish her joy because of her faith, hope, and trust in God.  What do I hope for?
    Dress legend
    • 'Children' pin:  Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children (1st reading)
    • 'Star' tie pin:  "Abram, look up and count the stars if you can." (1st reading alt.); from Abraham came descendants numerous as the stars (2nd reading alt.)
    • 'Walker' tie pin:  Blessed those who walk in the Lord's ways (psalm)
    • 'Fruit with grapes' tie:  You who walk in the Lord's ways shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; your wife shall be like a fruitful vine (psalm)
    • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Rejoice, hearts that seek the Lord (alt. psalm); sing with gratitude in your hearts; love your wives; grateful hearts (2nd reading); "This child will be a sign of contradiction so the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (gospel)
    • Dressing today:  'Put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (2nd reading)
    • 'Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' with one another (2nd reading)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Let Christ's peace control your hearts (2nd reading)
    • "Happy birthday, Jesus" pin:  Christmas (season); do everything in Jesus' name (2nd reading)
    • 'Musical note' tie pin:  Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (2nd reading)
    • 'Owl' tie pin:  Let Christ's word dwell in you as in wisdom you teach one another (2nd reading); the child grew and became filled with wisdom (gospel)
    • 'Dove' tie pin:  The Holy Spirit was on Simeon, revealing he'll see the Christ (gospel)
    • 'Eyeball' pin:  "My eyes have seen your salvation,..." (gospel)
    • 'Street light' tie bar:  "...a light for the nations" (gospel)
    • White shirt:  Color of today's celebration
    Special blessings to and prayers for our Holy Family parish and school communities in