Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus
December 27, 2015
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52

            The Gospel tells us of Joseph and Mary returning to Jerusalem to look for their son who was missing from the safe confines of the caravan. They find the boy Jesus delighting in tales and stories of scriptures with the Temple teachers when they interrupt and ask, “Where were you? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” We know how Jesus responds, but let me tell what I need to hear from Jesus this year. I wish he said, “Dad, Mom, thanks for caring for me so much that you came back to look for me. In fact, thank for you supporting me in so many great and small ways. I appreciate your concern that you show everyday. I’m glad to be in my Father’s house, but even more than that, Mom, Dad, I’m glad you show me the Father’s love.”

            Thankfully, most parents are dutiful, responsive, and caring, like Joseph and Mary, and they act out of genuine love for the souls that God entrusted to them. Sadly, as we read the newspapers, we are aware that some children do not get the basic care they deserve. While most parents search for their lost child, not every parent excels at tending to the emotional, spiritual, psychological, or even the physical care of our young ones. The levels of care children receive vary from household to household. Some parents do their very best, but they need greater support from friends and family to help them best respond to the complicated situations that arise with children. Being a parent entails constantly educating yourself on effective strategies. 

           As a community of faith, we need to more actively support parents and their children. In the days of Mary and Joseph, they could walk along in full confidence their son was cared for in the caravan. We cannot do that today. Parents will never let their children be out of their sight. As a first level of support, we ought to encourage parents to find delight in their spousal relationship because children will learn of God’s love as it is expressed through the parents. If parents are experiencing a maturing, evolving friendship with each other, it will provide positive examples of coping and dealing with conflict for their children.

            Next, it is important for us, in the larger community, to respect boundaries, but also to be gently intrusive into our neighbor’s lives. Entering into the struggles of another person is a sign of how much we care for one another. Respecting boundaries is crucially important because parents will determine how they want to raise their children. We have to hold back until we are invited into their lives, but we also have to be bold enough to give relief and counsel to those who show they are ready to hear it. Even if we do not agree with their decisions, we need to support the demanding vocation they have chosen. We must always move in the direction of loving more fully. Let us show one another that we are a community of faith that cares.
           
            A crucial part of the Gospel happens after Jesus is found in the Temple. He entrusts himself over to the care of Joseph and Mary to learn obedience from them. They taught him to be wise, patient, kind, and long-suffering in all affairs as a test of the greater task that lay before him. Because of what his parents taught him, Jesus was able to apply the obedience of his faith for our salvation. It is because of his obedience that we are saved.

            The important question that Joseph and Mary asked, “Where were you?” is a sign of great care and concern. We all want to know someone cares for us. See it for what it is: a sign of mercy, a sign that you are important to another person.

            The Year of Mercy will teach us the challenges of bringing mercy to life’s ordinary demands. If mercy is defined as entering into the chaos of another person, then we will get our hands dirty, but it is a sign of our magnanimous love. The people around you need you to enter their chaos; you need them to enter yours. In the center of this chaos, we are bound to find Christ, who came to save us from ourselves. Be open! Listen fully. Delve deeply. This journey that Jesus begins with us will get messy, but the trip will be worth it because we saved the life of a precious soul. May we learn obedience of faith from Jesus, just as he learned from his parents, and may it make our lives richer for the good work we have done.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 John 1) God is light and in him there is no darkness. If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another.
·      Tuesday: (1 John 1) The way we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; whoever loves his brother remains in the light.
·      Wednesday: (1 John 2) Do not love the things of the world – for the world is passing away, but whoever does the will of God remains forever.        
·      Thursday: (1 John 2) It is the last hour. You have the anointing that comes from the Holy One and you have all knowledge. You know the truth.
·      Friday (Numbers 6) Bless the Israelites in this manner: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord let his face shine upon you. The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.  
·      Saturday (1 John 2) This is the promise God made to us: eternal life. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Matthew 2) When the magi departed, Joseph rose, took the child and his mother by night to Egypt. He stayed until the death of Herod.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 2) Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple according to the purification laws. They met Simeon who blessed the child and said, “Now let your servant go in peace for my eyes have seen the salvation of the world.”
·      Wednesday (Luke 2) Anna, a prophetess, worshiped night and day in the temple. She spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
·      Thursday (John 1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the word became flesh and dwelled among us.
·      Friday (Luke 2) Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. On the eighth day, he was named Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.   
·      Saturday (John 1) John said, “I am not the Christ. I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’”

Saints of the Week

December 27: John, Apostle and Evangelist (d. 100), was the brother of James and one of the three disciples to be in the inner circle. He left fishing to follow Jesus and was with him at the major events: the transfiguration, raising of Jairus' daughter, and the agony in the garden. He is also thought to be the author of the fourth gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation.

December 28: The Holy Innocents (d. 2), were the boys of Bethlehem who were under two years old to be killed by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the rise of the newborn king as foretold by the astronomers from the east. This event is similar to the rescue of Moses from the Nile by the slaughter of the infant boys by the pharaoh.

December 29: Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr (1118-1170), was the lord chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury in England during the time of King Henry II. When he disagreed with the King over the autonomy of the church and state, he was exiled to France. When he returned, he clashed again with the king who had him murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. 

December 30: The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, was a feast instituted in 1921. It was originally the 3rd Sunday after Christmas. The Holy Family is often seen in Renaissance paintings - and many of those are of the flight into Egypt.

December 31: Sylvester I, pope (d. 335), served the church shortly after Constantine issued his Edict of Milan in 313 that publicly recognized Christianity as the official religion of the empire and provided it freedom of worship. Large public churches were built by the emperor and other benefactors. Sylvester was alive during the Council of Nicaea but did not attend because of old age.

January 2: Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen, bishops and doctors (fourth century), are two of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. They are known for their preaching especially against the Arian heretics. Basil began as a hermit before he was named archbishop of Caesarea. He influenced Gregory who eventually became archbishop of Constantinople. Their teachings influenced both the Roman and Eastern Churches.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome.
·      Dec 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia.
·      Dec 29, 1886. Publication of the beatification decree of the English martyrs.
·      Dec 30, 1564. Letter from Pope Pius IV to Daniel, Archbishop of Mayence, deploring the malicious and scurrilous pamphlets published against the Society throughout Germany and desiring him to use his influence against the evil.
·      Dec 31, 1640. John Francis Regis died. He was a missionary to the towns and villages of the remote mountains of southern France.
·      Jan. 1, 1598: Fr. Alphonsus Barréna, surnamed the Apostle of Peru, died. He was the first to carry the faith to the Guaranis and Chiquitos in Paraguay.

·      Jan. 2, 1619: At Rome, John Berchmans and Bartholomew Penneman, his companion scholastic from Belgium, entered the Roman College.